From education to employment

Further Details of the ESF Backed Projects Provide Sports with Food for Thought

The third round of European Social Funding (ESF) will go towards projects ranging from beefing up the meat industry skills to kicking on with skills training in professional football, it was announced.

The latest round of funding, which will be the last round of ESF funding before the priorities are re ““ examined and amounts to an injection worth some £75 million, will hopefully continue to address the skills shortages across the nation, and in this case it is Scottish industry that is set to be boosted in its battle for better skilled and equipped workers in the increasingly competitive and globalised marketplace.

The Funding

This funding will be dedicated 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 Objective 3 European Social Fund Programme covers all of Lowland Scotland and funds training, employability, raising skill levels and competitiveness. The Objective 3 Programme is worth an impressive £350 million running between 2000 and 2006. Including this latest announcement, more than 2,800 projects have benefited from ESF awards amounting to £346 million.

The funding has been allocated between various different areas, with 36 per cent going to projects run by the Voluntary Sector, 37 per cent to Further and Higher Education projects, and 16 per cent to local authority projects. Thus far this funding has helped almost 30,000 people go into further education or training, more than 20,000 people to go into employment, with 165,200 receiving training and over 70,200 people gaining a qualification. Furthermore, it has encouraged more than 2,000 companies to undertake workforce training.

The Prime Cuts

One of the projects is in association with the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders, and will see £137,627 go towards addressing the skills shortages within the meat industry and to encourage a wider take up of training across the independent butcher sector which currently employs around 3600 people, and supplies vital jobs and services in rural areas.

The Project focuses on the need for development of craft skills and enhances the current NVQ/SVQ training programmes. The qualifications that could be available after this process include the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Associations Craftsman Certificate, Customer Service Award or Scottish Federation Diploma.

Keeping an Eye on the Educational Ball

The football industry will also benefit from additional funding. The Scottish Professional Football Educational Trust has been awarded the amount of £174,881 to offer young football apprentices involved in Scottish Enterprise’s Skillseekers programme additional education and skills. This is an attempt to help the apprentices have a broad skills base, should their passion for the beautiful game not materialise into an offer of a professional contract.

It will also mean that even those who become professional footballers possess the skills that they need to enter a different profession upon retirement ““ for professional footballers, usually this occurs during their mid ““ thirties.

The activities that this funding is set to support includes the education and welfare office working with club learning reps to encourage pre-apprentices to be dedicated to education; the continuing monitoring of attitudes towards learning (amongst apprentices and full apprentices); employing a careers guidance professional on a part-time basis within the club; getting recognised as a learndirect learning centre; having someone dedicated to working with local authorities on coaching programmes; appointing a member of staff to secure work placements and identify employment opportunities for current players; and identifying the skill requirements of potential employers.

These projects will benefit from the additional funding that will be made available in this fashion. And there is a hope that ESF funding beyond 2006 will soon be determined, so that these projects are best able to plan for the future without as much extra European support. It is expected that more ESF funding will be diverted to the newer member states to build up their development, and unless these programmes are to close or be cut drastically, alternative funding will have to be found.

Jethro Marsh

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