By Claire West

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) welcomes the new initiative by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to invest £27 million of European Social Fund (ESF) money to help people improve their skills and stay in work, or develop new skills and find a job.

John Philpott, CIPD Chief Economist, said:

“As the economy enters recession and unemployment rises, employability is the name of the game. Using ESF resources to equip people to keep their jobs and/or find new jobs represents a worthwhile investment of public money at this challenging time, and highlights the fact that the fight against rising joblessness is a shared endeavour between the UK and the EU.

“The money involved in this new regionally focused initiative is admittedly small relative to the scale of the unemployment challenge the UK will face in the coming year, even when one accounts for the 50% matched funding required from organisations that successfully bid to run these projects. However, the sum on offer should be seen as part of the government’s overall spending on welfare to work measures and it also represents an opportunity to test different approaches to raising skill levels for those at risk of unemployment. But the key requirement is that those bidding for the funds ensure that they equip people with the skills employers want, which should mean actively engaging employers and HR professionals in the process.”