The government is to channel £27m of EU cash to help people improve their skills and stay in work or find a new job.
Organisations are being urged to submit plans for regional projects to develop ways of boosting people’s employment opportunities.
The money will come from the European Social Fund and all projects will run in conjunction with at least one partner from another EU member state.
Tony McNulty, UK minister for employment and welfare reform, said: “At a time when we are facing global economic challenges, it is essential that we make sure everyone has the right skills for the vacancies that employers want to fill.
“This initiative will help to break down barriers that prevent people achieving their potential, and tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our society. It will boost the support we offer to unemployed and disadvantaged people to improve their skills and return to work.”
The money will be targeted at projects helping people find jobs, using a range of measures including working with employers, the government said.
The deadline for applications is Wednesday 17 December, with projects expected to start in spring 2009 and run for up to three years.