Lanarkshire employment projects receive millions in government funding

Six Lanarkshire projects aiming to support people into work and help local enterprises have been awarded a combined total of nearly £3.4 million from a new Westminster government fund.

They include tailored projects assisting people with disabilities and additional support needs who are experiencing barriers to finding work; a network to increase skills and employability, including connected with marginalised communities; and an initiative providing targeted help in the North Lanarkshire ward with the highest number of people receiving benefits.

Funding is being provided from the UK community renewal fund – and the recipient community organisations are now getting busy their work underway.

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A new Airdrie Central community engagement project, run by Routes to Work, is receiving £484,120 to help people into employment by piloting “concentrated and intense engagement, pre-employability and personal development activities on their doorstep”.

The ward has the authority’s highest benefits claimant rate, and the project will support people who are unemployed, economically inactive or in insecure work.

Routes to Work chief executive Robin Turner said: “This investment will allow us to target support directly at a neighbourhood level to residents of the most employment-deprived area of North Lanarkshire.

“We’re delighted to have received this funding – through the targeted approach and our individually-focused skills and employment support service, we’ll be able to provide a pathway for more local people to take advantage of the improving jobs market in the district.”

The community renewal fund payments were praised by Trevor Douglas, the Conservative councillor for Airdrie Central, who said: “This important scheme will support people in our area, improving access to skills and development and helping tackle long-term unemployment for good.

“We’re extremely excited that the UK government is bringing this project to Airdrie and with this investment, this project can now get off the ground and start making a difference to the lives of local people.”

Party colleague Graham Simpson, the Central Scotland MSP, added: “It’s wonderful to see the UK government engaging with and supporting the needs of our local communities and working to tackle unemployment here in Airdrie.

“I look forward to seeing how this much-needed and worthwhile project will benefit the town; this funding will support local people to gain valuable skills and ultimately get back into long-term work.

North Lanarkshire’s largest single grant from the community renewal fund is £791,280 going to Elevator Entrepreneurial Ecosystem to provide help increase skills, employability and entrepreneurial awareness and use technology to track results.

The project is based in Shotts and Cumbernauld, and they say a key objective is to reach and connect with marginalised communities and target groups.

Managing director Andrew Burnett said: “We have a clear vision for North Lanarkshire: to be one of the most entrepreneurial, vibrant and dynamic regions in Scotland.

“This funding means we can pilot an innovative project which provides a network of community-focused enterprise support services, and is great news for local businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Right Track Scotland is receiving £195,657 for programmes entitled Lift Off and Accelerate for teenagers with additional support needs – the former covers personal, practical and digital skills activities, while Accelerate will include a series of two-week practical vocational taster sessions and a personal development and employability programme.

Chief executive Gillian Law said: “This funding will enable us to offer new programmes for young people with additional support needs to develop their personal, practical and digital skills as well as tasters to support them on their journey into employment.”

Enable is also among the 56 Scottish recipients, earning a bumper £739,738 cheque for its All In North Lanarkshire which helps people experiencing barriers to work to find and retain employment.

Participants can choose from a package of interventions including sport, outdoor pursuits, work academies and traditional support as they receive a tailored five-stage package of help which links with North Lanarkshire’s employability pipeline.

The council’s own supported employment programme, Employ Me, is receiving £234,021 for a pilot programme to help 50 unemployed people with disabilities to progress towards and into work – using “individualised support to remove barriers through an innovative delivery model that works with individuals, partners and employers”.

Council leader Jim Logue said while visiting Routes To Work’s office in Airdrie: “These are vital projects that will help to deliver inclusive economic growth, increase skills and generate jobs and training opportunities for our communities; which is part of our plan for North Lanarkshire [to] help improve lives and reduce poverty and inequality.

“A central part of our ambition for communities in North Lanarkshire is to equip people with the skills they need to gain meaningful and lasting employment and we work closely with a range of organisations to support people into work, training or enterprise.”

North Lanarkshire’s support totals nearly £2.5m; while across the county, Elevating South Lanarkshire is receiving £874,988 from the same fund.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack said: “This money is being spent on projects that matter most to people [and] will help strengthen communities.

“The UK government is investing more than £1.7 billion into Scottish projects which will help local areas thrive as we build back better, stronger and greener from the pandemic.”

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