Welsh Euro funds to tackle lack of employment

New European funding scheme to support economically inactive people

A new multi-million pound European funding scheme aimed at tackling poverty, social exclusion and unemployment in Wales has been launched at a celebration of Europe Day by Jane Hutt, the Welsh Government Minister for Finance and Government Business.

The launch was hosted by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) who will administer the Active Inclusion Fund on behalf of the Welsh Government, initially for projects running in West Wales and the Valleys supporting people over the age of 25 to move closer to the labour market. The scheme could later be extended to the East Wales region (Flintshire, Powys, Monmouthshire, Newport, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan).

The Europe Day event also highlighted the achievements of projects supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) run by WCVA since 2008. Held in collaboration with Wales’s European Funding Ambassadors Gaynor Richards MBE, Dr Hywel Ceri Jones CMG and Dr Grahame Guilford, and the European Commission Office in Wales, it acknowledged the contribution of the third sector to the economic and social regeneration of Wales.

Wales’s European Funding Ambassadors Gaynor Richards MBE said: ‘I was very pleased to attend the national conference which focused on the importance of Europe and European funding to Wales and in particular recognising and understanding the unique contribution the third sector makes to the economic and social regeneration of Wales.

‘European funding has helped third sector organisations create social and economic opportunities in some of our most disadvantaged communities. They are often best placed to support individuals with complex barriers to employment.

‘I wish WCVA and their delivery partners every success in the roll out of the new Active Inclusion Fund.’

The Active Inclusion Fund will build on the successes of WCVA’s previous ESF initiatives, notably the ILM (Intermediate Labour Market) and Engagement Gateway programmes, which together funded almost 35,000 people involved in activities ranging from first step community engagement through to supported employment placements.

Opportunities to deliver the new fund’s projects will be made available to private, public and third sector organisations wanting to make a difference to the level of poverty and unemployment in Wales.

The initiative will support ‘first step’ activities for those furthest from the labour market, with a second strand providing paid, supported employment.  

First step activities – for people not ready to go straight into work, either because of their level of education or personal circumstances – could range from basic skills training to more intensive support unavailable from mainstream providers such as colleges and the Job Centre.

The first strand of activity will help those who are most distant from the labour market and need bespoke support to tackle individual barriers to progressing towards the labour market, such as confidence, skills, financial capability, IT skills, disability, health issues, transport and childcare.

The second strand is more structured, providing subsidised work placements where people are given support to gain confidence, skills and qualifications, write CVs and search for job opportunities, and assistance to go through the interview and recruitment process and to move into a sustainable job.

Funding will be allocated through a competitive grants process and all applications must be made through the online application platform eTenderWales.

Ruth Marks, Chief Executive of WCVA said: ‘WCVA is delighted to be in a position to work with the third sector across Wales in making the best use of European funds, and we are delighted in the importance and recognition that WEFO have shown WCVA with the sector.

‘The sector has great expertise in working with people and communities and knows how important it is to meet individual needs and match these to strategic priorities.

‘The combined track record of WCVA and the sector working together on reducing inequality, tackling poverty and encouraging people to maximise their potential will go a long way to realising the new programme’s targets and outputs but more importantly will make the biggest impact on the lives of the individuals in the most need.’  

WCVA is running 14 events, from 26 May -10 June in each of the West Wales and Valleys local authority areas, providing information and support to organisations applying. Contact the WCVA Helpdesk on 0800 2888 329 for further information.

WCVA website.