The £13.4m QWEST (Quality Work, Employability, Skills and Training) project, led by the University of Wales, Newport, has been given the go ahead to continue for two more years and expand to cover Merthyr Tydfil and Rhonda Cynon Taf. It already operates across Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.
The additional funding from the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government brings the total EU investment to £8.5m, enabling the scheme to help more economically inactive and unemployed individuals to access tailored support and improve their chances of finding a job.
In addition, through a partnership with the Universities of the Heads of the Valleys Institute (UHOVI), participants will also be offered community-based learning opportunities to help them gain the skills and experience needed to enter the workforce.
Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies, said: “We are committed to providing the right support and training to move economically inactive and unemployed individuals into sustainable employment.
“EU projects have assisted over 294,000 participants, of which over 83,000 have been supported to gain qualifications and some 35,000 helped into work. I am pleased we have been able to back this initiative with further EU funds to ensure more people benefit and access services to improve their job prospects and future prosperity.”
QWEST provides free learning and skills development, including work experience, volunteering, and help to build confidence and self-esteem so that individuals are better prepared for work. They are also given the opportunity to access Foundation Degree programmes through UHOVI.
QWEST Project Manager, Lyn Waddington said:
“It is fantastic news that QWEST will continue in an expanded role, allowing us to support more people into work by developing their confidence and skills in an even wider area and to have a more coherent partnership with UHOVI.
“Over recent months and years, the project has supported hundreds of people and we are delighted that this very important work will continue at a time when support is really needed.”