£55m employment and skills programme launches new round

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A £55million programme to boost people’s skills and employment prospects across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire has launched a new round of targeted programmes.

The European Social Fund Operational Programme has so far seen £37million invested in a range of programmes since 2014 which by March this year had seen nearly 20,000 people participate with over 9,000 progressing into education, further training apprenticeships or employment.

It is being run by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and plays an important part in its strategy to secure a well-qualified and adaptable workforce with the skills sets appropriate to the needs of existing business sectors, as well as those where there are aspirations for economic growth.

The European Social Fund (ESF) Operational Programme is part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme for England in 2014-2020.

Three partner organisations are supporting the programme delivery and providing match funding. They are the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and The National Lottery Community Fund (BBO).

Now four new targeted programmes have launched, running until July 2021 and will benefit from £15million investment. Over 60 delegates gathered at an event earlier this month to celebrate the success of the overall programme and to mark the launch of the new round.

The new programmes are:

  • Skills support for the unemployed which will include bespoke personalised support and training.
  • Support for people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) or risk of being NEET which will encourage young people to realise their potential and progress in learning and in the workplace.
  • Community grants of up to £20,000 to develop the capacity of local community organisations and help them meet local needs.
  • Skills support for the workforce and redundancy – a programme to help people in work to progress and support those at risk of redundancy.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP deputy chairman Alun Rogers (pictured) said: “Developing a skilled workforce to meet the needs of our employers is essential to the LEP and the European Social Fund Operational Programme has been hugely successful in helping us to achieve that.

“It has delivered targeted programmes to those most in need of support and has benefited over 9,000 so far in terms of progression into education or employment.

“We are speaking to businesses now to help formulate our Local Industrial Strategy and finding out how training programmes can support them is important.

“We’re now looking forward to seeing the new programmes get underway and make a real difference to people and business.”

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