A report is published today by the Department for Work and Pensions covering the Evaluation of European Social Fund Priority 1 and Priority 4: Extending Employment Opportunities to Adults and Young People. Thisevaluation forms part of a suite of research gathering evidence on the delivery of the European Social Fund (ESF). It aims to improve understanding of the processes, range and delivery of ESF Priority 1 and Priority 4 provision within the 2007-2013 England and Gibraltar ESF Operational Programme (OP). Priority 1 and Priority 4 seek to increase employment and tackle worklessness through a mix of employment and skills provision, intended to support people to enter jobs and in some instances progress within work. The evaluation sought to better understand: how participants are referred onto provision (and who is not referred); the range, delivery and tailoring of provision; and the relationships between key players involved in delivery.
Key findings from the research were:
- A consistent delivery infrastructure for Priority 1 and 4 provision exists for both DWP and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) commissioned activity, encompassing a variety of delivery approaches and models tailored to geographical and local requirements.
- Formal training specific to ESF is limited amongst both Jobcentre Plus and ESF provider staff, with the informal training, information and guidance received largely felt to be sufficient. However some additional training and access to information about ESF would help Jobcentre Plus advisers in particular.
- Close liaison between DWP and SFA contract managers and those managing provision within prime and lead contractors is key to ensuring contract and performance management contribute to effective performance and delivery.
- Targets to promote effective performance appear to be working well; Co-Financing Organisations (CFO), Jobcentre Plus staff and providers, all felt that the targets and the approach taken to using them were appropriate and fair.
- Formal eligibility criteria, such as the requirement for participants to be unemployed or economically inactive, are well understood amongst Jobcentre Plus and provider staff and are consistently applied. However there is some variation in the way ‘eligibility criteria’ and targets are defined and understood, particularly amongst Jobcentre Plus advisers.
ESF provision appears to combine effectively with DWP mainstream provision and is widely viewed as delivering in terms of enhancing mainstream activity, offering different approaches and support, and accessing different target groups.
Notes to Editors:
- The DWP Research Report ‘Evaluation of European Social Fund priority 1 and priority 4: extending employment opportunities to adults and young people’ will be published on 30 June 2011.
- This research report aims to improve our understanding of the processes, range and delivery of ESF Priority 1 and Priority 4 provision within the 2007-2013 England and Gibraltar ESF Operational Programme (OP). The research is based on ten in-depth case studies, involving a total of 182 interviews with stakeholders in ESF Co-Financing Organisations, Jobcentre Plus, and ESF delivery contractors.
- The research was carried out on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions by Ecorys Research Ltd. Fieldwork for the evaluation was undertaken between January and March 2011 and the report was published on 30 June 2011.
- The author is Ian Atkinson.