The European Social Fund in the North East of England works to deliver support in an area that was severely affected by the economic downturn. It is an area historically dominated by shipbuilding and coalmining, the decline of which over the past century resulted in large-scale industrial unemployment in metropolitan areas such as Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Durham and Darlington, as well as rural areas. Northumberland and County Durham, both largely rural, base much of their economy on farming and tourism. Unemployment in these areas is high, with families experiencing generational unemployment. ESF activity in these places is focused on groups particularly affected, including young people who are NEET, the over 50s, and those furthest away from the labour market. ESF Horizon and ESP Sunderland, demonstrate how ESF in the North East is working with these target groups.
The economy of Teesside is largely based on the petrochemical and steel industries, while Sunderland is now becoming an important area for science and IT. Selected as a low-carbon economic area, it draws upon industrial and technological strength in areas such as energy and the environment, greening the process industry, healthcare, and health science. Design, digital and software have also been key enabling industries. These priorities have been refined into niche areas of expertise, for example electric and low-carbon vehicles, industrial biotechnology, offshore wind and printable electronics. Nissan's new all-electric car, Leaf, is to be manufactured in Sunderland. Nissan have engaged with ESF funding in the North East to provide a routeway course to support local residents into work, as described in our Pertemps People Development Group report.
ESF in the North East
ESF's presence in the North East until 2013 will be dominated by Jobcentre Plus and the Skills Funding Agency's new programmes. NOMS will continue to deliver offender related provision, while the ITM programme includes:
- Virtual Jobs Hub, an innovative database of all vacancies in Middlesbrough
- Employers Engagement and Leadership, which encourages employers to lead on the skills and employment agenda
- Changing People, a project looking at the demographic change of the area.