Winter 2018 European Social Fund (ESF) Newsletter

Monday 17th of December 2018 10:33 AM

Welcome to the Winter 2018 European Social Fund (ESF) Newsletter that has been produced by Coventry & Warwickshire’s ESF Technical Assistance Team.

In this edition, we bring you up to date on projects launched through the 2014-2020 ESF Programme in Coventry & Warwickshire to raise skills levels within our workforce and support local residents to access employment.

We’ll also give you some interesting examples of what this funding is achieving for our local residents and businesses.

Opportunities to apply for European Social Fund monies

Just to remind you that in our last newsletter we advised you that DWP has launched a call to run projects tackling inequality in the labour market and will concentrate on inequality for some marginalised groups, geographical discrepancies and those suffering worklessness due to ill health.  This opportunity can be found by clicking here: The deadline for submission of Full Application forms is 11th February 2019.

An opportunity has also been launched for organisations to apply for funding to deliver skills training to people employed in small and medium enterprises.  This opportunity can be found by clicking here: The deadline for submission of Full Application forms is 25th February 2019.

If you have queries on either the employment or skills calls or would like an informal conversation about the opportunity please contact a member of the Technical Assistance Team, contacts listed at the end of this newsletter.

Read how young people in Warwickshire are being helped into work

The Positive Futures project aims to support youths at risk of social exclusion.

Young people in Warwickshire are being helped into work by Positive Futures, a training scheme targeting 15 to 24-year-olds not in education, employment or training who do not have basic maths and English qualifications.
Co-funded by the Department for Work and Pensions’ European Social Fund and 50 per cent match funded by Warwickshire County Council and PET-Xi Training, the training course is helping break down barriers to entering the jobs market for young people in the area.

Deputy Director, Head of European Social Fund Division, Dr Catherine Blair visited young people taking part in the training course, to see first-hand the support offered by the training and education specialists.
Since its launch in 2016, the project has seen over 350 young people secure jobs or enrol in education on completion of Positive Futures. The programme, launched by PET-Xi Training, has an ambition to support a further 400 young people move into employment or education.
Joined by Glenn Robinson, manager of the Skills for Growth programme run by Warwickshire County Council, the pair were given a tour of PET-Xi Training’s headquarters in Coventry by the project’s managing director, Fleur Sexton.

After meeting employees, Dr Blair visited PET-Xi Training’s new Skills Hub in Nuneaton to hear more about the Positive Futures project and the impact it has had on participants’ lives.

Dr Blair said: “It was fantastic to see how this project is making a real difference to the lives of young people at risk of social exclusion.

“Staff can offer young people practical advice on a range of issues, including employment, and support individuals with their next steps such as moving or providing transport to interviews.

“Youth unemployment is at a record low and it’s great to see the difference projects like this make, helping more young people move into work or education.”

For more information, click here:

Coventry and Warwickshire businesses to benefit from £5.3m skills training pot

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Coventry and Warwickshire are urged to take advantage of a £5.3m skills training pot for their workforce, as a result of a contract extension.

The training is delivered as part of a programme called Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW), which Serco’s Employment, Skills & Enterprise business is managing across Coventry and Warwickshire. Since the programme launched in September 2016, 2,348 learners from 323 businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire have taken advantage of the funded training available. Serco has just been awarded a contract extension to continue delivering the programme until March 2019.

Serco supports growth across all sectors by providing basic skills training including literacy and numeracy, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), employment skills such as communication and team working, and vocationally specific qualifications. Intermediate and Higher level skills training is also available in the following sectors, which have been identified as key priority sectors by Coventry and Warwickshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP):

  • Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering
  • Construction
  • Retail
  • Digital
  • Logistics
  • Education

Businesses operating in these sectors can access funding for training courses such as IT, leadership and management, as well as vocationally-relevant training (depending on the sector).

To deliver the programme, which is co-funded by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, Serco has partnered with expert training organisations to offer local businesses recognised accredited qualifications and bespoke training courses, aiming to enhance employees’ skills and increase the competitiveness of the businesses.
Businesses can select from a range of qualifications or mix and match individual to support their work. The courses, which can take place at the employees’ workplace, range from a few hours’ training, to units of NVQ or other qualifications. Programme participants have benefited from increased employee confidence, motivation and productivity and businesses have reported improved employee loyalty and retention.

Commenting on the contract extension, Rob Matts, Serco’s Head of Skills Support for the Workforce, said: “We are delighted that the Education and Skills Funding agency are trusting Serco to continue making a positive impact to local communities in Coventry and Warwickshire. Skills Support for the Workforce is a brilliant skills training programme which small businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire can take advantage of at no cost to them. Thousands of people have benefited from this programme already and I would urge businesses to make the most of the funding available before March 2019, so that they too can benefit from this investment in vital skills training."

Businesses can contact Serco on or visit for more details and to find out if they are eligible for funded training through Skills Support for the Workforce.

Success for Jess with Progress​

Jess initially came to the Job Shop looking for work, as she was finding it difficult to get past the interview stage, and was unsure of what route to take career-wise. This was accompanied by a lack of confidence and the fact that Jess has Asperger’s Syndrome, and so sometimes found social communication difficult. Jess was put on the Progress project, which meant that her job coach, Saba, was able to provide extended support with building confidence/social skills and help Jess overcome boundaries.

After the initial meeting and after a brief discussion with her job coach, they highlighted the key areas Jess wanted to work on to improve her chances of getting into employment. Jess recognised that she needed to work on her confidence, and also wanted to improve on coping with change. They agreed that by the support provided she would also have the opportunity to improve her social skills as well, and this would help her in her job hunting.
Over three months, Jess received support with confidence building, coping techniques, and taking part in activity sessions through Progress to improve her social skills. She also received support with job searching, getting help with interview techniques, and job applications. She made a decision to stick with what she was passionate about and chose to apply for childcare positions.

After a lot of hard work and motivation, Jess was successful in a number of interviews and as a result was invited to a work trial which went wonderfully. Since then she has started a Level 2 Childcare Apprenticeship, working in a Nursery full time.
Jess is thrilled with the support she has received from the Job Shop, “I couldn’t have done it on my own, thank you for all your help”.
Jess is very happy to be finally doing something she loves and aims to become a childcare professional.

Progress is funded by the European Social Fund and the Big Lottery Fund. Find out more about the Progress project here:

For more information about the European Social Fund for England, please visit the website at:

The ESF Technical Assistance Team would welcome feedback on this newsletter. To provide feedback, or to find out more about ESF in Coventry & Warwickshire or how the team could help you develop your project ideas, please contact:

David Hope –
Telephone: 07572 180 017

Helen Hunt –
Telephone: 07775 745 559

For further updates on the ESF Programme in Coventry & Warwickshire, please visit