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£20 million to be spent on increasing employment opportunities in the South East

We have £20 million of European Social Fund to deliver projects that will improve skills and employability on our patch (East Sussex, Essex and Kent, the SELEP area).

To enable us to get the very best out of this great opportunity we are consulting with a range of partners at a workshop event in Westminster on Tuesday 12th September.

Working with partners and organisations to drive the best outcomes

We will consult with employers and businesses, training providers, colleges, charities, the Big Lottery and the DWP to gather ideas and inputs to enable us to design the best value for skills and employment growth going forward.

“We are very focussed on improving employment opportunity and feel it is key to consult with people who know the challenges and opportunities and can help us unlock potential. To get them together and involved to develop the best, the clearest and the most effective set of activities to deliver growth in skills and employment”

Lorraine George, EU Funding Strategic Lead, SELEP

Why do we see this as a key event?

Because in order to meet its growth potential and ensure that people will benefit from future opportunities on our doorstep, we need to address the skills gap in the SELEP area.

Overall qualification levels in the SELEP area; East Sussex, Essex and Kent, are failing to keep up with the national average and are well below those of neighbouring and similar LEP areas.

Whilst we are seeing both a large number of vacancies and high projected growth predictions for the area apprenticeship starts have remained static over the past few years remaining at around 32,000 in the context of nearly half a million 15-34 year olds.

SELEP has low productivity compared to other LEP areas and our population is set to grow from 4.1 million to nearly 5 million by 2039.

So what will happen next?

The outcome of consulting with experienced partners and organisations will enable us to prioritise and fund a set of focussed projects designed to deliver employability growth in particular demographics.

We will then confirm any new calls for tender on our website, via partner networks and published on the DWP’s website.


About the SELEP and ESF funding

  • The South East LEP area ESF allocation is £71 million
  • So far we have allocated £51 million of ESF to projects
  • This has been matched pound for pound by organisations running projects providing direct training support in partnership with Job Centre Plus, Education and Skills Funding Agency and the Big Lottery
  • ESF focuses on improving employment opportunities, promoting social inclusion and skills by providing the help people need to fill their potential

Find out more about our European funding work:

European Structural Funds

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

European Social Fund (ESF)

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

ESIF Sub Committee