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Adult Learning and Health on the Agenda for Scotland through ESF, but Europe’s Leaders in

The final round of European Social Fund (ESF) funding for Scotland has been announced, and will seek to address issues across the skills and training sector in Scotland.

With new member countries likely to receive a greater share of the money in the next round of investments, this funding is likely to mark the high water mark of ESF funding for Scotland. Funding debate is currently raging for the period from 2007 to 2013, and the resolution of this is hoped to take place within the current EU presidency (held by the United Kingdom”.

Adult Learning in Scotland

One project being supported by ESF funding will be one to ensure that older learner’s are catered for. The Scottish Adult Learning Partnership (SALP) has been awarded £1,020,317 of ESF funding to work with unemployed older people, both male and female aged 40 to 50. The aim is to support beneficiaries in their bid to return to the workforce by helping them improve their core and basic skills, including their basic ICT training.

The Project will deliver basic employability skills support through work experience and will help these individuals develop greater confidence and motivation. This guidance and mentoring support to individuals will take place throughout the project, expected to last for approximately 40 weeks. The beneficiaries will be recruited both through local activities run by local organisations, and through national promotional campaigns such as the forthcoming Adult Learners Week.

A Healthy Education

Another topic that has become an increasingly sore point for Governments is the obstacles that face those attempting to move from incapacity / invalidity benefit back into the workforce. The new funding, which will offer some £1,727,413 to Jobcentre Plus, will add significantly to the basic provision for individuals claiming Invalidity Benefit. It is hoped that this will enable 6,252 clients to obtain individually tailored assistance and guidance aiming at supporting 3,126 to move from benefit into employment.

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Invalidity Benefit (IB) customers face multiple barriers in moving into work, a major part of these being health issues, lack of confidence and disengagement from society. This project will provide a service across Lowland Scotland mirroring that available in the Pathway pilot areas and will be able to deliver Condition Management Programmes made up from cognitive educational modules helping these IB clients understand their health condition, its effects, how to manage their thought processes and manage pain and health conditions, while supporting them with job search support, training and work placements.

2007 and Beyond Under Consideration

The next round of funding is to be decided soon, but the budget debate in Europe is far from resolved. One of the key issues facing the UK Government during its presidency is to bring to a close the budget discussions that so spectacularly stalled last June. Alongside the bitter discussions on the future of EU spending with regards to moving away from direct farm subsidies (which is strongly opposed by France), negotiations will also address a so ““ called economic “shock absorber”.

One of the key causes of contention amongst the member states is the scale of the UK’s annual rebate, which was negotiated at a time when the British economy was far less competitive than it currently is. A British paper has attracted criticism for failing to explicitly mention the UK’s controversial annual rebate and compromise proposals tabled by the Luxembourg EU presidency in June.

Another key issue to be decided upon is the proposed creation of what is known as the “Globalisation Adjustment Fund”, which will include the plans to target EU regional spending on economic growth and prosperity. This is sure to affect ESF funding in the next seven years, and with the figures to be announced no sooner than late November, projects around the country are holding their breath.

Jethro Marsh

What happens next in ESF funding? Tell us before the EU does in the FE Blog!

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