Building Better Opportunities

People living in deprived areas of Staffordshire who are struggling to find a job are receiving one-to-one help and support in a new programme.

Two organisations – Business Enterprise Support and Steps to Work – have been successful in their applications to deliver the ’Multiple Barriers’ project. This is part of the Building Better Opportunities programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund. Their two parts of the programme will are running across Stafford, South Staffordshire, Burton, Lichfield, Cannock and Tamworth, and started in 2017.

A third part of the £11million programme, covers Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Business Enterprise support will run the £2.3million Stafford and South Staffordshire project, focusing on areas including Highfields, Western Downs, Littleworth, Manor and Penkside in Stafford, and Hatherton and Huntington in south Staffordshire.

Click here for the Business Enterprise Support Building Better Opportunities  Programme Invitation to tender for the provision of employment support services for blind people: Employment support services tender advert

Steps to Work runs the £3.17million project covering Burton, Lichfield, Cannock and Tamworth. The areas covered include:

  • Tamworth: Amington, Belgrave, Castle, Glascote and Stonydelph;
  • East Staffordshire: Anglesey, Burton, Eton Park, Horninglow, Shobnall, Stapenhill and Winshill;
  • Cannock: Brereton and Ravenhill, Cannock East, Cannock North, Cannock South, Etching Hill and the Heath, and Hednesford North;
  • Lichfield: Chadsmead and Curborough.

The schemes aim to help people facing barriers to employment because they lack qualifications, live in an isolated rural area, have caring or childcare responsibilities, or have problems with ill health or disability, or face other problems such as discrimination due to their race or age group.

A key aim of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is to develop a modern and flexible skills system which enables everyone to gain the skills required to find work in the growth sectors of the local economy, creating more and better jobs and helping to build thriving communities.

LEP chairman David Frost CBE said: “We are delighted that these important projects have won funding from the Big Lottery and the ESF.

“We are fortunate to have a low level of unemployment in our region, but there are still pockets of deprivation and too many people without qualifications. It is vital that all our residents have the opportunity to improve their skills and find fulfilling jobs. A highly skilled workforce is key to creating a successful economy for the future and ensuring that Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire is somewhere that people want to live, work and invest.”

Staffordshire County Council’s learning and skills leader Ben Adams said: “We have seen job opportunities increase significantly across Staffordshire in recent years as we have attracted major investment, supported business development, backed small enterprises and improved fibre broadband connection across the county.

“We must make these opportunities work for everyone and so investment in improving skills is vital. Working with the LEP we are increasing apprenticeships and have implemented the advanced manufacturing and engineering skills hub. The Building Better Opportunities programme will focus on harder to reach communities – giving people greater confidence and skills to meet the needs of today’s employers.”

A needs analysis and consultation carried out by the LEP identified people particularly in need of help, including:

  • people with low skills or qualifications;
  • people who are unemployed and economically inactive, including those out of work due to disability and ill health;
  • young people not in education, employment or training (NEET);
  • groups of people at highest risk of worklessness and facing multiple barriers to employment.

The analysis highlighted the need for a personalised approach, working one-to-one with people to help them address the particular barriers preventing them moving towards and into employment.

The new projects focus on those who are furthest from the labour market. Finding them jobs is one measure of success, alongside helping them to progress onto other training, education or volunteering opportunities.

The projects support people through the transition to work or learning, help them gain skills, including digital and financial skills, and provide ongoing support while they find their feet in new jobs.

Notes:

  • The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.
  • It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Every year it invests over £650 million and awards around 12,000 grants across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.
  • The project received funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

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