The Skills Funding Agency has awarded £10.6m to organisations in the West of England to help young people, the long term unemployed and those facing barriers to work develop new skills and find local, sustainable employment. The funding was secured through European Social Fund (ESF) – EU funding designed to help people into better jobs and ensure fairer opportunities – and Big Lottery Fund (BLF) programmes which aim to tackle poverty and promote social inclusion.
Local programmes running over the next 18 months, will support over 5000 local people and reach over 6000 local small businesses through a range of activities delivered by a number of local service providers:
Learndirect will deliver a programme supporting those aged 25 and over into sustainable employment, education and apprenticeships, as well as the Your Time initiative supporting 15-24 year old who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) ) into work or back into learning;
- A programme of skills support, advice & guidance for the people in and out of work will be delivered by N-Gaged Training
- West of England Works programme will support NEET young people and adults is being delivered by Weston College and a range of partners from the education, training and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector.
- Skills West is a programme being delivered by Business West and Western Training Provider Network (WTPN) which will help align training and employment opportunities to for our economy to thrive, with employers, education and training providers working together to equip local people with the right skills at all levels.
Local people are set to benefit from this programme through a range of new opportunities from greater availability of face to face careers advice to advice on CV writing and interview techniques. By sharing insights in to the nature and location of future jobs across the region, residents will he helped to make better informed choices relating to potential learning, training and employment opportunities. In particular, activities are seeking to support disadvantaged individuals and communities, underrepresented groups and those facing complex multiple barriers by supporting them to re-engage with education, training, or gaining employment.
Stephen Robertson, Chair of West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This funding is really good news for the West of England as a condition of the award is that it directly reflects the approach of the West of England towards the development of skills. Whilst unemployment is relatively low in our region compared to other parts of the country – with 9,355 claiming either JSA or Universal Credit, this new pot of money will enable a clear line of sight to employment.”
“Using our local knowledge, networks and partners, this money will be used to create an all-inclusive, overarching approach that tackles the barriers to work locally, bringing education and business closer together and addressing social inclusion and diversity.”
The West of England LEP is committed to developing a well-motivated workforce with the skills that business need as a crucial element of its strategy for local inclusive growth. Shortages of skills are one of the most frequently reported barriers to business growth in the West of England. Through local co-ordination from the LEP, local authorities and other partners, activities have been designed to complement existing programmes and avoid duplication of high quality provision already provided by local authorities, JobcentrePlus National Careers Service and the Careers and Enterprise Company.
About European Social Fund
The ESF Operational Programme for England was adopted by the European Commission in autumn 2015. This was a key milestone for the programme and means that all 3 of the funds which form the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) growth programme in England are officially approved. Each of the full and final Operational Programme documents can be found on GOV.UK.
Across England, €3.5 billion (approximately £2.53 billion) is being made available through ESF to support projects in Local Enterprise Partnership areas throughout the 2014 to 2020 programme period.