European Social Fund skills cash will help Scottish firms survive

The Scottish government has secured millions of pounds worth of funding to help workers north of the border strengthen their existing skills, to boost employability and help Scottish businesses survive the downturn.

The cash generated from the European Social Fund (ESF) – about £5.6m – will be allocated to 33 projects across the Highlands and Islands, and is expected to benefit up to 7,000 workers.

The Scottish government also hopes that the money will help businesses thrive and eventually enable them to create new posts for unemployed people.

Fiona Hyslop, Scottish education and lifelong learning secretary, said: “It is crucial that we equip our workforce with the right skills to reach their potential so they can play their part in Scotland’s future economic success, including helping it recover from the current downturn.”

Between 2000 and 2006, the European Social Fund helped more than four million people across England with funding, although the level of support available has fallen in recent years.

Hyslop added: “The action we have taken demonstrates that through our economic recovery programme and all opportunities available to us the Scottish government will do all we can to ensure Scotland’s future economic recovery and growth.”

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