From education to employment

ESF Minister Delighted at Diversity in Funding Launch Ceremony

At the launch of the latest round of European Social Funding (ESF) in London last week, the Minister responsible for ESF, James Plaskitt MP, spoke of the Government’s commitment to promoting employment and development for all.

The ESF funding announcement, in the conference rooms at the New Connaught Rooms near Covent Garden, featured hundreds of individuals from across the capital’s learning and regeneration sector gathering together to share their thoughts and express any doubts or expectations for the funding situation. A distinguished panel included Mr. Plaskitt, who spoke at some length of the importance of this funding for the future prosperity and competitiveness of London.

Happy to Attend

Mr. Plaskitt began by stressing his pleasure at being able to attend the launch of the Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC’s) Pan London 2 (PL2) funding programme, that sees a further funding boost of £35 million pledged for the capital. He also said he was delighted to see so many organisations represented at the launch and sees this as a testament to the diversity of those benefiting from the funding.

Since 2000, he said, approximately £475 million has been provided as a funding boost, and what the Government see as great levels of success he attributes partly to the commitment to an employment strategy geared towards supplying employment to all in the most inclusive manner possible. According to Mr. Plaskitt’s figures, 28.8 million people are currently in employment in Britain, which is more than ever before.

Clearing Targets with Room to Spare

Mr. Plaskitt also drew the audience’s attention to the fact that Britain was enjoying success far beyond the levels expected or demanded by the European Union (EU). Currently Britain has 75% of people of working age in employment, which is in excess of the EU target for 2010 that was set at 70%. In London alone, there are 3.4 million people in employment.

Mr. Plaskitt welcomed the impact that ESF funding has had and the role played by both the LSC and the various partners for each project in achieving greater inclusion and success than ever. He has been able to attend several of the projects himself, as regular visitors to FE News will undoubtedly remember, and looks forward to visiting more of these projects in the months ahead.

Aging Society and 80%

Mr. Plaskitt recognises the need to improve further and does not shirk the responsibilities that the Government carries. There remain many disadvantaged areas of the community that require greater access to training and opportunities, with Mr. Plaskitt listing lone parents, the disabled and over 50’s amongst them. The challenge of the aging society that all developed nations face is to be met, he says, by “improving social inclusion.”

The aim, says Mr. Plaskitt, is to achieve an employment rate of 80%, which would tackle what he sees as the “scourge of unemployment.” He is looking to the LSCs to target ESF funding at those who most need it, specifically towards the areas of society who suffer from low or non qualifications. Through this, he believes, Britain can improve its effectiveness and competitiveness in the years ahead.

Jethro Marsh

Does ESF funding match these aims? Tell us in the FE Blog

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