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Euro Funding to Target Skills Enhancement in Scotland

It has been announced recently that Scotland will receive a funding boost of some £75 million from Europe to help enhance the levels of skills and training in a number of sectors.

The funding will go towards supporting more than 150 new projects, who will see the cash pot of £34.5 million shared between them. The remaining funding, amounting to £40.5 million, will go towards a series of continuing and rolling projects. This funding is expected to be the last major batch of funding under the aegis of the Objective 3 European Structural Funds which was drawn up in the programme of 2000 ““ 2006.

The Funding Reaction

The projects cover a wide range of economic development areas including enhancing training and skills, and the Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Allan Wilson made his pleasure plain when he said: “I am very pleased to announce this very significant amount of ESF funding which will go towards more than 400 projects in lowland Scotland. £75 million is a vast amount of money which will benefit a wide range of projects around the country.”

He also described the particular application of the funding, saying: “Almost £175,000 will go towards the education and the football industry project which will help young players develop the skills and training theyll need if they dont manage to make the grade as a professional. A further £1 million will go towards the Scottish Adult Learning Partnership to assist people aged between 40 and 50 who have been unemployed for more than six months. And there are of course other projects, from getting young people with disabilities in the Borders into work, to addressing skills shortages in the meat industry. “

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He concluded by ushering in this final round of funding, stating: “As this round of European funding draws to a close, I expect to see this investment enhancing training and skills – and ultimately the economy – across the country.”

Whilst this may be the final round of funding, further discussions are taking place during the UK’s presidency of the EU to establish the best way forward. The UK Government view appears to be that future Structural Funds may be more needed in new member states. The Executive share the concerns about the overall size of the EU budget. As the level of funding is still subject to the EU budget negotiations it is not possible to accurately assess the level of future funding, however, if any funding is to come to Scotland it will be a smaller amount than that received under the current programmes.

Jethro Marsh

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