A £3.5 billion fund designated for Britain’s beleaguered workforce has published a report detailing the characteristics of its beneficiaries, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) can reveal.
The European Social Fund (ESF), designed and run within the European Union, purports to “strengthen economic and social cohesion” between member states, including the UK. The ESF uses its vast resources to boost the skills level, promote lifelong learning and help the inactive.
The report, entitled “European Social Fund Objective 3: The 2005 Beneficiary Survey for England”, summarises that those benefiting from the fund have increased their opportunities for employment, in most cases actually securing work.
The data comprises two waves of research; the first indicates research while beneficiaries were enrolled on an ESF funded course, and the second interviewed these same beneficiaries once they had completed their course.
From the summary, it appears that those beneficiaries, who have been targeted due to potential labour market disadvantages, have been successful in improving their future prospects. Many were employed when they enrolled, seeking to improve and update their skills, but approximately half of the respondents were either unemployed or economically inactive.
Of the survey, one in four beneficiaries did not have a qualification before enrolling on an ESF funded course, while men were more likely than women to lack qualifications. Overall, the data revealed that 66% of the respondents experienced labour market disadvantages which included belonging to a minority ethnic group, suffering from a disability or from a long term health condition and those whose first language was not English.
Summarising the outcome following the completion of such ESF funded courses, the report reveals that for many beneficiaries, there was a positive move from unemployment to employment. They were tracked for 12 months before, during, after their courses and at the time of the survey, indicating that employment rose by nearly half over the course of the study and unemployment fell in a proportionally similar manner.
And pertinently, it was revealed that education appeared to be used as a positive route out of unemployment by those who were not work ready by the time their course ended.
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