Update on EU Competitiveness and Employment

The European Union Competitiveness and Employment Programme is divided into two parts, (1) Competitiveness and (2) Employment, both of which have relevance for the Voluntary and community sector.

(1) Competitiveness

The Competitiveness Programme promotes investment in research and technological development by encouraging enterprise and entrepreneurship.

The programme is administered by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI). DETI are currently working on the application process and selection criteria as well as preparing application forms and guidance notes and expect to open calls for the programme in March 2008. 

When available, Priority 2: Promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship is of particular relevance to the voluntary and community sector given its potential support for Social Economy projects within the local government plans submitted under this Priority.

To ensure their social enterprises are included, organisations should contact the European Division within DETI (Tel. 028 9052 9900) who will be working with local government in the production of their plans.

(2) Employment

The Employment Programme has two priorities namely:

Priority 1: Helping people into sustained employment

The objective of this priority is to improve the employability of people with disabilities and health conditions, lone parents, older workers, young people, women and people with low qualifications by identifying and tackling their personal barriers to entering and competing effectively in the labour market.

Voluntary and community sector organisations can benefit from this Priority as they are well placed to engage people who are excluded from or at a disadvantage in the labour market,  and  

Priority 2:  Improving workforce skills and adaptability

The objective of this priority is to develop a skilled and adaptable workforce by improving the acquisition skills and the essential skills of literacy, numeracy and ICT and extending the labour market opportunities of women, lone parents, partners of those on income support and older people.

Voluntary and community sector training providers are also eligible to benefit under this Priority. The programme is delivered by the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) and following the their call for applications in October 2007, 77 projects were successful and economic appraisals are underway for many of these projects.  DEL hope to issue letters of offer to successful applicants in March 2008 with the intention of many projects commencing in April 2008. 

Over £31 million (approximately half the available budget) has now been allocated for these 77 projects with expenditure likely to run from 1 April 2008 to 1 March 2011.

Is is not yet known when a further call for applications will be made. Contact DEL for more information