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News Desk: Industry News

Brexit Britain must not lose £2.4 billion investment in people

12 May 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Heather Ette
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Brexit Britain must not lose £2.4 billion investment in people

The Employability and Skills Sectors have joined forces to issue a statement aimed at making the case for properly replacing the European Social Fund when the UK exits the European Union. The group of 19 bodies including IEP, ERSA, NCVO, Learning and Work Institute, the Association of Colleges and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers have said that it is crucial that similar levels of investment continue to meet our future skills needs.

The statement, which was released on Thursday 11 May, has made a significant impact on social media reaching more than 121,000 accounts on Twitter and achieving 386,000 impressions using #FutureESF. A letter also appeared on the Telegraph’s letters page and the launch has been covered by FE Week,  TES, and 24 Housing.

The statement reads as follows:

We stand at a crossroads with some big decisions to take. The UK is leaving the European Union (EU). We have a strong economy and high employment.

But there is much more to do for everyone to share in this prosperity and to meet our future skills needs: 9 million adults in England have low literacy, numeracy or both; some groups, such as disabled people, and areas of the country have much lower employment rates; and 6 million people are in low paid work.

We must now grasp a once in a generation chance to invest in our people and tackle these entrenched challenges. Ensuring a replacement for European Social Fund (ESF), due to invest £2.3 billion in England in the six years to 2020, is central to this. Intended to support more than 2 million people by 2020, local ESF projects support adults to improve their life skills, disabled people to find work, and those most likely to miss out to get a second chance.

We believe it is essential that this investment in people continue at least at the same level as currently provided by ESF and other adult skills and employment programmes.

However, we can invest differently and better. We have an opportunity to simplify funding, integrate services, and target investment where it is most needed – making sure more money reaches the front line. All of this can better support people and employers and deliver better value for money for taxpayers.

We call for successor programmes to ESF of at least the same value. We want these to be locally-driven, reduce bureaucracy, integrate services, and better support people and employers to meet their skills and employment needs.

This is a time for bold and creative thinking on how to create the jobs of the future, ensure everyone has a fair chance in life, and develop the skills we need for future prosperity. That requires a commitment to investment and a plan for delivery.

To register your support please complete the form here

Please use your networks and social media channels (#FutureESF) to encourage others to support the campaign. 

A letter to the Editor published on Thursday 11 May in The Telegraph reads as follows:

Brexit: Boosting job skills

SIR – For Britain to succeed after Brexit, we must invest in people and skills. We call on the next government to match the £500 million-per-year European Social Fund investment in England when the country leaves the European Union.

This funding is intended to help more than two million people by 2020 to improve their job prospects and build their skills. It helps community groups reach those left behind. It is a necessary investment for future prosperity and to help people struggling to get by.

We have a once-in-a-generation chance to invest better and differently, cutting bureaucracy and empowering local areas. Our future prosperity and fairness depend on it.

Stephen Evans 
Chief Executive, Learning and Work Institute 

Sir Stuart Etherington 
Chief Executive, NCVO 

Kirsty McHugh
Chief Executive, ERSA

Janice Langley
National Chair, National Federation of Women’s Institutes

David Hughes
Chief Executive, Association of Colleges

Mark Dawe
Chief Executive, Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Dr Sue Pember
Director of Policy, HoLEX

Dawn Whiteley
Chief Executive, National Enterprise Network

Steve Hawkins
Chief Executive, Pluss

Dan Freshwater
Chief Executive, Wheatsheaf Trust

Graham Duxbury
Chief Executive, Groundwork

Steve Stewart
Executive Director, Careers England

Ruth Spellman
Chief Executive, WEA

Julia Wright

Juliette Collier
National Directors, Campaign for Learning

Scott Parkin
Chairman, Institute for Employability Professionals

Christopher Stacey
Co-Director, Unlock

Ian Simpson
Chairman, Give Us a Chance Consortium

Howard Sinclair
Chief Executive, St Mungos