A total of £13 million of European Union funding has been awarded to tackle joblessness in Staffordshire.
The money from the European Social Fund (ESF) will be used by four providers to fund various projects aimed at boosting workers' skills and helping unemployed people into work.
These schemes will run across the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership area up until July 2021.
ESF spending is aimed at promoting economic and social cohesion across the EU, with a particular focus on less-developed regions.
Providers in Staffordshire previously received £18.9 million of ESF funding for the period 2016-2019.
Under the latest tranche, outsourcing giant Serco has secured £4.5 million for the ‘delivery of education and training that best supports the needs of local employers and employees’ in the LEP area.
Serco runs the Skills Support for the Workforce in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, which offers employee training programmes to businesses.
Skills Training UK Limited has also received £4.5 million for providing support for NEETs – young people who are not in employment, education or training.
PeoplePlus Group Limited has been awarded £3.15 million for the supply of ‘skills support’ to unemployed people.
And £900,000 has been allocated to the Community Foundation for Staffordshire, which will distribute the funding in the form of community grants to groups supporting the unemployed and economically inactive.
The funding is guaranteed to 2021 regardless of what happens with Brexit.
Steve Adams, chief executive of the Community Foundation, says the grants scheme will help more than 1,000 people across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
“We will be awarding grants of up to £20,000 to community and voluntary groups, for projects that will help bring people to the labour market.
“These projects have got to be aimed at helping people who are further away from the labour market. For example, they could help people with disabilities, or those who have been out of the workplace for a long time. They may need help to build up their confidence, or improve their interview skills.
“We would ask groups thinking of applying for funding to given us a call first to check if they are eligible. If they aren’t, we run other grant schemes which may be more appropriate.”
ESF contracts are managed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency on behalf of the country’s 38 LEPs.
A total of 47 providers across the country have together secured £315 million of funding.
An ESFA spokesman said:
“The ESF helps people get better jobs and ensures fairer job opportunities for all EU citizens. It works by investing in Europe’s workers, young people and all those seeking a job.
“From 1 April 2019 to 31 July 2021, the 47 ESF providers, spread across England, will work in local communities to increase participation in education, training and employment.
“They will do this by developing the skills of potential and existing workforces and by supporting young people into education. The focus will be on those who find it hard to engage in education and training and in areas with higher rates of youth unemployment.”
Cliff MItchell, Staffs4Europe wiht thanks to StokeonTrentLive