European funding is helping employers beat skills shortages, drive up staff aptitude levels and increase diversity.
According to government figures, cash from Europe is playing an active role in improving general skills levels and helping disenfranchised groups move into the jobs market.
Organisations are currently applying for the next round of European Social Fund (ESF) Objective 3 Funding, which is designed to improve skills and employment prospects, reduce long-term un-employment, establish lifelong learning, and promote equal opportunities.
More than 2.7bn of ESF level 3 funding has been allocated to England between 2000 and 2006. It is helping employers find job-ready candidates and improve the skills of existing workers. Programmes funded through the ESF are also helping to raise female representation in the labour market, and promote the notion of lifelong learning.
According to the ESF leavers survey of 3,431 users, the scheme has increased the likelihood of unemployed people finding work by 16 per cent.
Work and pensions minister Chris Pond said the funding was making a valuable difference to the UK’s workforce.
“The ESF is making an important contribution to our policies to promote employment opportunities for all,” he said. “It has enabled more than half of the programme’s participants to gain a qualification and increase their chances of finding jobs.”
Construction firm John Lang used ESF to provide courses for youngsters to get a taste of the industry or use as a stepping stone into apprenticeships. Around half the trainees are of ethnic minorities, picking up valuable skills including carpentry and brickwork.
Meanwhile, local businesses in the Medway area are benefiting from improved engineering, managerial and internet skills after several organisations teamed up to create the Autotrain Project.