Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance
Today the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor is in Wales to see first-hand the achievements of the European Social Fund (ESF), which is supporting thousands of people and businesses across Wales.
During his one-day visit, the Commissioner will also meet MEPs, cross-party spokespersons on Europe in the National Assembly, Members of the EU Committee of the Regions, and the Chair and members of the new Programme Monitoring Committee for EU funds.
During the ESF project visits, the Commissioner will meet young people being supported under the Welsh Government’s flagship Jobs Growth Wales scheme who, following six-month paid work experience, have secured permanent positions at the Admiral Group in Cardiff. He will also be meeting engineering apprentices at GE Aviation in Nantgarw – world-leading specialists in the maintenance of large and small jet engines for commercial and military aircraft, which has received support through the Welsh Government’s Skills Growth Wales and Apprenticeship schemes.
In Newbridge, the Commissioner will meet vulnerable or disadvantaged young people who are learning new skills, gaining confidence and being prepared for a better future with the help of the PUPIL project (Pupils Understanding Problems In their Locality). Led by Cynon Valley Crime Prevention Association, in partnership with the Police, six local authorities and the Youth Offenders Institution, the project has already helped over 5,800 young people and I am pleased to announce today an additional £600,000 of ESF funds to extend the delivery of the project to the end of the year.
Overall, ESF projects across Wales have supported 162,600 individuals to gain qualifications, over 54,300 helped into work and 38,450 into further learning.
While a recent independent survey found that almost three-quarters of respondents had gained a qualification as a result of ESF training, around two-thirds of previously unemployed individuals and 30% of those previously economically inactive were in employment within 12 months of completing their ESF training. In addition, unemployed ESF participants, compared with the wider population, were about 20% more likely to find a job than unemployed individuals who had not undertaken ESF training.
The new EU programmes 2014–2020 which will continue to support jobs, skills and economic growth are currently being considered in draft by the European Commission. Formal agreement of these programmes must await submission by the UK Government of the UK Partnership Agreement, which has now been delayed until mid March 2014.
In the meantime, drafts of the Wales Chapter of the UK Partnership Agreement, the Wales ERDF and ESF Operational Programmes, the Economic Prioritisation Framework and other guidance have been published to help potential sponsors in the planning and development of projects. The new Wales European Structural and Investment Funds Programme Monitoring Committee 2014–2020 has also met in shadow form to discuss the proposed methodology and criteria for the selection of operations for EU funds so that we can hit the ground running as soon as the programmes are agreed by the Commission.