Innovation Exchange

Invest in Renfrewshire


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


“Invest in Renfrewshire” – Renfrewshire Council’s programme to grow the local economy – was established in response to the recession which created an environment where youth unemployment had doubled, businesses were struggling and jobs were reducing.


Launched in June 2012, the Invest in Renfrewshire programme established a new and innovative approach with Renfrewshire’s business community at the heart of the model.



Youth unemployment in Renfrewshire was consistently significantly higher than the Scottish average and Renfrewshire tended to be ranked in the bottom 6 local authorities in Scotland.


The 2012 youth unemployment rates had nearly doubled since 2008 causing fears of a lost generation who never fulfil their potential. Employability, unemployment, underemployment and the state of the economy was affecting the whole of Renfrewshire, including the private sector, and more had to be done to increase opportunities for young people.


In view of the downward trend in the number of public-sector jobs, any new job opportunities would be created almost exclusively in the private sector. Could more be done to support this?


Private sector-led growth could create more and better employment for Renfrewshire’s growing young unemployed. Employment would reduce poverty, improve the standards of living and create the basis for sustainable development and for reaching the Community Planning Partnership (CPP) goals. However, in terms of community planning, the private sector was largely invisible and not actively involved in the CPP or local delivery partnerships.


The Goal:

  • to increase and improve opportunities and outcomes for young people;
  • to build a genuine relationship and effective partnership with the private sector;
  • to grow the Renfrewshire Economy.


The Invest in Renfrewshire Message:

  • "Invest Together"
  • "Invest in Business"
  • "Invest in Youth"


The results:


  • Nearly 900 Renfrewshire companies are formally signed up to a partnership with Renfrewshire Council where they actively contribute to the employability of young people;
  •  Over 1000 new and additional jobs have been created across the area;
  •  Renfrewshire’s youth employment rate moved from 27th place (June 2012) in Scotland to 4th place (June 2015);
  • Renfrewshire’s youth unemployment levels reduced from a high of 11% to a low of 3% taking Renfrewshire from 26th place in Scotland to 16th.

Theme: Employability

renfrewshire council logo

Invest Together

Renfrewshire Companies sign up to a partnership commitment with the Council where they offer a range of support to unemployed young people including:


o work experience;

o a workplace visit;

o world of work talk;

o staff time;

o a job;

o an internship opportunity;

o to become accredited as a living wage employer.


  • The Invest in Renfrewshire team then liaise with that employer and bring them into the employability programmes at the right time and where they can best make a contribution.
  • Renfrewshire Council agrees to support that company to grow and develop through a range of officer and business finance support through Invest in Business.


Invest in Business

Renfrewshire Council has committed to a range of supports to help a company to grow and develop including:


  • Wage incentives of up to £5k to create a new and additional job;
  • A free recruitment service to link appropriate people looking for work to the vacancy;
  • Company training grants to improve innovation and productivity;
  • Business grants to grow or expand the business;
  • Property search support and premises grants;
  • Internship grants of £5k to employ a graduate intern;
  • Interest free business loans of up to £5k;
  • Larger loans of up to £100k through the West of Scotland Loan Fund;
  • Start –up grants;
  • Business Incubator;
  • Support staff.


Invest in Youth

Renfrewshire Council provides an extensive employability pipeline of services for any unemployed person in the area. The services are based on the 5 stage employability pipeline and offer a staged progression towards employment with support from a Key Worker. An integrated Youth Employability Hub has been developed and a similar centre for adult unemployed (over 30 years) is also available.


The 5 key stages of the pipeline have a range of activities available to develop an individual and it is these activities that have developed to incorporate support and participation from the private sector.


In the area of employability, the Private sector bring a great deal of value -  experience, opportunity, variety, commercial approaches, creativity, output driven, expertise, imagination and a proven a willingness to get involved. We are now capturing their energy and opportunities.


There is enormous benefit in working so closely with employers:


  • There is a genuine partnership in Renfrewshire. The Invest in Renfrewshire brand is strong and widely recognised and is owned by everyone involved.
  • Employers look to employ Renfrewshire people first. It’s not a necessity but is part of the message that we are building our economy together.
  • Companies get to build relationships with young people and are much more inclined to employ them once that relationship has developed.
  • Employability programmes are much more effective – private sector inputs provide an expertise that employability staff cannot offer, making the programmes much more “real”
  • The support from companies is effectively free giving a much better chance of future sustainability and (we hope) reducing our employability costs over time;
  • The range of pilots /testing of ideas has given us confidence that the approach is both efficient, effective and provides benefits for young people, companies / employers and Renfrewshire Council.


The impacts have been significant:


  • Nearly 900 Renfrewshire companies are formally signed up to a partnership with Renfrewshire Council where they actively contribute to the employability of young people;
  • Over 1000 new and additional jobs have been created across the area;
  • Renfrewshire’s youth employment rate moved from 27th place (June 2012) in Scotland to 4th place (June 2015);
  • Renfrewshire’s youth unemployment levels reduced from a high of 11% to a low of 3% taking Renfrewshire from 26th place in Scotland to 16th.

 The Approach: It was agreed from the start that any efforts to bring in the private sector should not be tokenism and should be about real partnership and a commitment on all sides to work together. A long term view was required, reflecting the employability agenda and the needs of companies, building a relationship over time with the private sector.


As a result, over the last three years, Renfrewshire Council has been developing and expanding a range of new employability approaches in partnership with the private sector with a view to increasing the relationship and role of the private sector in employability in Renfrewshire.


It now has a formal, growing and developing partnership with significant employer involvement, changing the lives of young people.


The Process and Plan:

  • Inclusive dialogue and consultation with the private sector – what could they do to assist young people?
  • Building a policy and development environment conducive to sustainable partnership developments
  • Pilot actions, evaluation and then further roll-out and expansion
  • A sustainable approach: reliant on goodwill/partnership/ambition; not on funding (future challenge)
  • A new and significant “call to action” for all Renfrewshire’s companies to invest in youth and for Renfrewshire Council to support businesses with the launch of “Invest in Renfrewshire”


Phase 1, 2010: Private Sector Led Employability Pilots.

A range of new programmes were initiated in 2010 where local employers played a lead role in improving the employability prospects of young people. For example: The Renfrewshire Recruit Programme, initiated in summer 2010; 10 local companies hosted “the Apprentice” style challenges – bringing young people into their workplace and setting them business challenges to test and develop them. 5 of those employers went on to offer jobs to the Recruits.


Phase 2, 2011: Expanding the Pilots, Scaling up Involvement.

Initiatives were scaled up, building on success/ lessons learned in the previous year, and additional companies were worked with. Different approaches and requests for employer support were gauged and developed, testing out which elements the private sector best responded to and which were the most difficult or easy to facilitate. Renfrewshire Council opened its Youth Employability Hub in central Paisley to facilitate a fully accessible base for all youth employability services (from the CPP and Private Sector partners) and to allow an opportunity for grater partnership working and support to young people. Consultations (online and face to face) with employers / the private sector offered a chance to review the approach so that a major initiative could be launched early in 2012.


Phase 3, 2012 to date: Invest in Renfrewshire Initiative

  • Launched following a further range of employer consultations, feedback, review.
  • Clear Vision & Strategy: “Invest Together”; “Invest in Business”; ”Invest in Youth”.
  • Aims to get 1000 Renfrewshire companies (large and small) to sign up and pledge support;
  • Regular contact with all companies involved, communicated through business breakfasts, Chamber of Commerce events, Invest website and newsletters (as well as regular meetings/calls);
  • A new business hub to link and further integrate young people/the business community/CPP partners has been developed underneath the Youth Employability Service.
  • The Councils new Economic Development Strategy is called Invest In Renfrewshire and is planned to be “owned” by all economic agencies in the area, including the private sector.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Ruth Cooper

Economic Development Manager

Renfrewshire Council

0141 618 7868

Case study added to site: June 2016

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