Mapping national employment and skills provision

This project sets out to help local authorities across England build a better understanding of how employment and skills provision, which can seem complex and fragmented, is commissioned and delivered.

SLI banner - digital skills

As most employment and skills provision is commissioned and procured nationally by Government departments or their agencies, it can be difficult for local authorities’ employment and skills teams to know what support is available and when.

The LGA commissioned Research Matters to look into this and describe the current picture of national employment and skills programmes. It identified 22 nationally contracted programmes and a further 27 programmes that are not contracted. Where possible it describes how these programmes are delivered across England. The tools below have been designed to help improve conversations between local and national government on how to collaborate on existing provision by geography and any future opportunity.

The full report is available to download on Research Matters website.

This project is part of the LGA's Improvement Support Programme, funded by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

About Research Matters

Research Matters is a strategic business research agency based in York.  It works with a wide range of organisations to deliver a reliable fact and evidence base, insightful context and competitive intelligence to help them make informed decisions. They have produced a blog which highlights more about this resource and how it can help to untangle government funding.


The LGA aims to support local authorities maximise employment and skills support currently available and, in the longer term, develop a partnership between local and national government to design a system that works for all people and places (guided by the Work Local proposals). In a world that places jobs at the heart of COVID-19 recovery efforts and driving the economy forward, this work is more important than ever.

This project with Research Matters sets out to help local authorities across England build a better understanding of how employment and skills provision, which can seem a complex and fragmented, is commissioned and delivered. It examines all known current national employment and skills programmes and provision, focusing on nationally contracted programmes and how these are commissioned, but also describes other relevant provision and potential opportunities that may arise from a rapidly changing landscape. These are set out in tables below.

Firstly, this report details employment and skills programmes that are nationally contracted to external suppliers, either on a national level or sub-nationally. It describes some of the current commissioning issues and highlights the complexity of both the geographic boundaries and the landscape of employment support providers.

Secondly, it describes other employment and skills programmes, including direct Government provision of employment support, allocated funding to education and training providers and relevant grants that are available now and in the near future. An appendix gives more detail of the programmes.

Alongside the report is an interactive map which local authorities can use to look up programmes and any known relevant providers that are active in their area. This map can be found further down this page.

Using the work

This work:

  • provides a roadmap of current employment and skills provision, with clarity over which programmes are contracted to external suppliers and on what basis
  • provides local authorities with a clear picture of what national provision is available in their area, including who provides it (where information is available)
  • helps local authorities understand the spatial footprints that shape this provision and how this is changing
  • highlights an evolving provider landscape of key national and local providers which might offer new opportunities for partnership and development
  • aims to support local and national government to collaborate more to shape provision and maximise opportunities that arise.
Aims and approach

The research aims of this project were to:

  • identify and describe a current and reasonably comprehensive picture of key national employment and skills programmes in England
  • determine where provision is contracted to external providers and detail how this is commissioned, the geographic commissioning boundaries and relevant providers at a local authority level
  • where possible, map geographic boundaries of contracts to local authority (LA) areas and use as a simple tool to help LAs see the commissioning areas they sit in and the contracted providers in their area
  • describe other non-contracted programmes, including how these are funded and commissioned.

Programmes described in this report are nationally commissioned and funded, for the most part by central Government departments. They cover all post-16 education, skills and training provision at all levels, employment support, work-based learning, information and advice and support for employer recruitment needs. The focus is England, but some programmes also cover other nations of the UK. For some national programmes, Mayoral Combined Authorities and the Greater London Authority have devolved responsibility and directly procure activity – these are noted but not described.

A few types of support are excluded in this research, including direct government employment support via Jobcentre Plus (JCP), including work coaches, as well as other employment support roles, for example, in the NHS; skills-focused qualifications; support that is locally funded and delivered; and third sector/charity provision (unless this receives central Government funding). While this is a reasonably comprehensive picture of national provision, this is a complicated and evolving landscape with significant current political and economic importance in part due to the response to COVID-19, so it may be that some smaller or more recent programmes are not captured.

A key objective has been to make sense of the myriad of commissioning boundaries for contracted national programmes. Where a programme is found to be contracted through national procurement, we have made our best efforts to identify the commissioning boundaries and the providers that are delivering programmes in these areas. We have mapped these by programme at LA level – this was not always straightforward, with some necessary judgement calls and a number of caveats:

  • There is a lack of transparency around how contracts ‘map’ to local authority areas. This detail is often only laid out in tender documents and contracts and it has not always been easy to find this information or be confident that it is the most up-to-date version.
  • National programmes are inter-related and often overlap: Job Entry Targeted Support (JETs), Restart, Work and Health Programme (WHP) and Intensive Personalised Employment Support (IPES) for example, all include sub strands of basic skills support, which cuts across Jobcentre Plus (JCP) provision and draws from other programmes such as Adult Education Budget (AEB). Some ‘programmes’ are wrappers for combinations of other programmes and funding streams. We have unpicked and acknowledged this detail as much as possible, but may have missed some connections.
  • For contracts commissioned within Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas, there are complications around changing and overlapping LEP boundaries. In our work, LAs are mapped to current LEPs. If an LA was previously part of a different LEP and an associated contract, it was not always clear to us whether or not it is still included in that provision or not, or which provider now covers their LA. This project was not able to check/track all such changes.
  • Some contracts commissioned at a LEP level may only be providing a programme to areas within that LEP. For this project, we have assumed that the contract covers the whole LEP area.
  • We have identified where possible the relevant prime providers for each area of a contract. However, there are many instances where there are partners, consortia / groups of providers delivering provision. Equally, sub-contracting provision to smaller areas at a local level is a common practice that we are aware of but have not been able to track within this project.

Contracted provision of employment and skills programmes


We identified that 22 programmes that are currently or about to be delivered as contracted provision by external suppliers. The majority are commissioned and funded by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) or the Department for Education (DfE), whilst a number are match funded with the European Social Fund (ESF) which is managed by the DWP.

In broad terms, we can describe four distinct commissioning models for the programmes seen:

Large scale, DWP-commissioned national employment support programmes, which aim to support and complement direct DWP provision through JCP networks and capacity. These can be characterised as follows:

  • Contracts: centrally-designed and managed, locally tailored delivery, using a prime contractor model. Competitive tenders split across established contract package areas (CPAs).
  • Providers: a mix of national players with multiple contracts and players in a single geography.
  • Programmes: Work and Health Programme, New Enterprise Allowance, Intensive Personalised Support, strands of Access to Work (assessments and mental health support), Job Finding Support and, most recently, Restart. 

Smaller, targeted programmes, mostly commissioned by the DfE but also other government departments (DHSC and DCMS):

  • Contract model: a national lead supplier with partners or subcontracting to cover regions. May be competitively tendered but are often re-contracted to the incumbent provider and funded 1-3 years ahead.
  • Providers: including third sector organisations, typically those that devised and set up the programme in the first instance.
  • Programmes: mostly focused on fast-track recruitment into teaching and social work, including Career Changers into Teaching, Teach First, Step Up to Social Work and Think Ahead, as well as the National Citizenship Service (NCS). Slightly different, but also contracted on a similar basis is the Independent Advice and Support Programme (IASP).

New contracts for key work-based training programmes, commissioned by the ESFA:

  • Contract model: shift away from previous annual ESFA procurements to more contract-based provision with competitive bidding and longer terms. Bound by LA regions.
  • Providers: multiple providers, including training providers (colleges, independent training providers, employers and local authorities) or local partnerships and consortia.
  • Programmes: 19-24 Traineeships; Digital/Skills Bootcamps (rolling out with two competitive funding rounds). 

Ongoing (and some new) ESF programmes which are managed by the DWP or ESFA and will phase out from 2021. ESF-funded programmes focus specifically on providing preparatory, additional and alternative employment and skills support to people with disadvantages. These are centrally commissioned and funded, with some level of ESF and/or local match-funding and local delivery through LEPs:

  • Contract model: multiple and variable contracts, designed and contracted at LEP level, to cover the LEP (sometimes only parts of a LEP or NUTS 2 More Developed and Transition Category of Regions). ESF programmes are devolved in London and Greater Manchester, although some of the procurement has been fulfilled by the ESFA on their behalf.
  • Providers: national and local employment support and training providers. Providers often work across different geographic areas
  • DWP co-funded programmes: 17 ongoing contracted projects across 12 LEPs, 6 of which are in London (originally 31 projects across 28 LEPs) 
  • ESFA co-funded programmes:
    1. Skills Support for the Unemployed, Skills Support for the Workforce, Supporting NEETS – multiple ongoing projects running to 2023 across LEP areas and devolved for London.
    2. Youth Employment Initiative – some ongoing projects from first round (2014-2022) plus a new call in January 2021 for projects that will run 2021-23. 

Commissioning strategies

The DWP is the main commissioning body in this landscape and has a clear commitment to meet its employment support aims through JCP and by contracting some programme delivery to external suppliers. As a result, the DWP has a more developed approach to commissioning which is underpinned by contracting frameworks with pre-approved suppliers (first UAEHRS and now CAEHRS) and a new 2020 commissioning strategy.

Restart is the first large scale programme to be commissioned under the new Commercial Agreement for the provision of Employment and Health Related Services (CAEHRS), a five year (2020-25) framework-style agreement which aims to deliver more effective, efficient, consistent and quicker procurements. 28 organisations have been awarded a place on CAEHRS, 21 of which have multiple places and seven have single awards. CAEHRS has been divided into seven geographical lots, with one national lot:

CAEHRS geographical lots
CAEHRS geographical lots

CAEHRS is now the preferred default position for future employment provisions. One of the benefits highlighted by the DWP is consistent geographic boundaries which are expected to allow providers to build on existing footprints in an area, deliver economies of scale, foster local and specialist partnerships and increase local knowledge. However, whilst acknowledging these benefits, the large contracting areas are felt to have made integration between providers and the local services that unemployed people rely on more challenging to achieve. Whilst smaller contracting areas would be a preferred model for LAs, it is clear that the DWP is committed to the larger areas. This is underlined in the new DWP commissioning strategy which confirms the commitment to “endeavour to maintain an over-arching standard Contract Package Area (CPA) structure, sub-dividing or joining two or more together dependant on an individual project procurement strategy.

Furthermore, as well as contracting future DWP provision through CAEHRS, the DWP has indicated (in a CAEHRS market presentation) that it would like to see other contracting authorities – devolved governments, devolved authorities, local authorities and other government departments and arm’s length bodies – also make use of CAEHRS for their procurement, however many local commissioners are likely to want to use providers with a proven track record working with local partners. The DWP commissioning strategy also highlights the importance of working with partners at the sub-national level through JCP with local authorities and other local partners.

The DfE has less of a strategic focus on developing commissioning in this way, maintaining some relatively small national contacts with lead providers or partners. Most skills and work-based learning is managed locally, but funded through annual allocations from the ESFA. Funding is ‘allocated’ to local authorities and education and training settings based on funding formulas and is ‘procured’ from Independent Training Providers. Most provision for work-based training programmes has been covered by the ‘procured’ element of the funding.

However, two recent/current competitive contracts, including a large scale £233.5 million contract for 215 training providers to deliver 19-24 Traineeships, may indicate a shift to more contracting going forward. The ESFA 2019-20 annual report does reflect a focus on increased scrutiny of commercial agreements and building capability to manage contracts. However, the need for multiple providers to meet the myriad of different and specialist training needs would appear to be a less natural fit to large scale national contracts.

Geographic boundaries

Local authorities' employment and support teams face a complex picture of contracting and geographic boundaries when trying to understand the national contracted provision that covers their local area. This is made considerably more difficult by the lack of upfront information about how contracts ‘map’ to local authorities, as the detail is often only laid out within the tender documents and contracts, rather than published separately. Detailed comparisons of the different contracted programmes give some sense of the various geographic footprints that teams have to contend with:

  • National: Programmes are delivered via one national contract with one, occasionally two, providers covering the whole of the country.
  • Regional/Contracted Package Areas (CPAs): For these contracts the country is divided into regions with a different provider covering each area, although in some cases a provider can win multiple ‘lots’ and so cover more than one region. In others, regions are split into two. There are several different regional boundaries seen across the programmes, including:
    1. Nine standard local authority administrative regions: North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, South West, South East, London.
    2. Jobcentre Plus regions: North Central, North East, North West, South West, South East, London and Essex, West Midlands, North and East Midlands.
    3. CPA areas defined in the Umbrella Agreement for Employment & Health Related Services (UEAHRS) and CAEHRS frameworks: Central England, North East England, North West England, Southern England, London and Home Counties, Wales, Scotland.
    4. Bespoke/adjusted regions for the needs of the contract: For example, National Careers Service areas were informed by the ESFA analysis that included, among other factors, Combined Authorities’ boundaries, LEP areas, Opportunity Areas and travel to work patterns. As a result, East of England and East Midlands were combined, Cumbria was combined with North East and Oxfordshire combined with South West.
  • Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas: most of the contracts that include some European Social Fund funding are awarded via LEP areas. However shifting and overlapping LEP boundaries often add complications.

As well as the fluid geographic boundaries, the range of contracted programmes introduces multiple provider relationships. In the snapshot provided below of selected local authorities, we can see they are dealing with 15+ different employment support providers, as well as an array of local training providers. For some contracts, there is an additional layer of sub-contracted providers, voluntary providers or local partners, which adds to the complexity of provision, and is not captured here.

It also shows evidence of some national players and regional providers which could serve as potential relationships and partners for local authority employment and support teams. This existing contracted provision of employment support and the increased certainty created by the new CAEHRS framework is helping establish a landscape of provision which definitely highlights some key providers, as well as some potential new suppliers that have been awarded a place on CAEHRS.

Local snapshots


Bexley, a London Borough, sits in six differently defined regions: London, Home Counties, London and the Home Counties 2, South and East London, East Local London, South London (LEP).  In addition, some provision is devolved to the GLA.  Including national contracts, this covers 21 different contracted programmes and at least 17 provider relationships as well as multiple training providers and local providers.


Hartlepool, a Borough Council in County Durham, similarly sits in seven different regions: North East, North East 1, North East England, North East and Cumbria, North East and Humberside, Tees Valley (LEP), Tees Valley and Durham.  Hartlepool has a similar number of contracted programmes and provider relationships to Bexley.


Preston, a city in Lancashire, is much simpler, with four distinct areas:  North West, North West 1, North West England, and Lancashire (LEP).  Preston has fewer supplier relationships because of the success of one local, LA-backed supplier, The Growth Company, which has won several regional lots for national contracts as well as local ESF-funded projects, is a stand-alone social enterprise which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Greater Manchester LEP.  This may be an interesting model for other authorities.

Other non-contracted provision of employment and skills programmes


Whilst the primary focus of this report is to highlight the range of contracted provision, we have also set out to describe the range of other nationally funded provision to give a more complete picture of available support for employment and skills. This includes the key relevant allocated education budgets overseen by the ESFA, as well as other DfE managed funds, direct DWP provision through the JCP network and a range of large national funds sponsored by different government departments or funding bodies. 

We have described around 27 national programmes or funds that are not contracted:

DfE managed funds cover the key relevant allocated education budgets (16-19, adult education, high needs), bursaries, apprenticeships and careers education. These are mostly channelled through the ESFA and relevant higher education funding councils. Specific programmes included are:

  • 16-19 Traineeships and Sector-Based Work Academies are employer led programmes which include funded training provision which is drawn from 16-19 and AEB allocated and procured funding. However, as described earlier, 19-24 traineeships were funded in this way for 2020-21, but this is now being contracted from 2021-22. In addition, training provision for non-levy apprenticeships will no longer be funded through allocated education budgets after March 2021 (see below).
  • Funding for all apprenticeship training provision is managed through the National Apprenticeship Service (April 2021) where provision can be sourced and funded directly from the employer-funded apprenticeship levy. The ESFA will have an ongoing role in administering reimbursements to training providers.
  • Loans and bursaries that are distributed by training providers directly to learners are included in the allocated AEB.
  • Also included within the 16-19, AEB and High Needs budgets is funding that can be used by training providers to create Supported Internships, along with Access to Work funds and some other JCP services.
  • Outside the remit of the ESFA, careers education is a combination of a nationally contracted National Careers Service and direct funding to the Careers and Enterprise Company, which in turn distributes some funding to local Careers Hubs.

DWP non-contracted provision mainly covers direct DWP services offered through the Jobcentre Plus (JCP) network:

  • JCP support is delivered through a network of 637 jobcentres, which employ work coaches, specialist advisers and work psychologists, provides facilities and delivers outreach activities. This has been bolstered as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 13,500 additional work coaches and 80 new temporary JCP sites in an effort to engage more people through frontline, local services. The DWP also uses a Dynamic Purchasing System to help JCP teams buy work-focused activities to help people move into work, with providers able to bid for the opportunity to supply these activities.
  • Some specific funding pots that JCP can use to purchase additional, targeted individual and local support and provision, such as Access to Work and the Flexible Support Fund.
  • In addition, employers are funded directly by the DWP for providing job placements through the short-term Kickstart programme. 

Distributed grants are from a range of government departments, sometimes in combination with additional funding and support from the National Lottery, the ESF and also the TUC. We have identified a range of funds that deliver different types of employment support, including:

  • Direct employment support to workers or disadvantaged individuals and groups, including: Building Better Opportunities (National Lottery/ESF); Community Grants (ESFA/ESF); Life Chances Fund (DCMS); Union Learning Fund (TUC/DfE – until 2021); Troubled Families (Supporting Families) Programme (MHLCG now the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – DLUHC).
  • Stimulus for job creation, including the Green Recovery Challenge Fund (DEFRA)
  • Stimulus for place-based economic recovery and regeneration aimed at selected local authorities, including the Levelling Up Fund (cross departmental), Towns Fund (DLUHC), UK Community Renewal Fund (DLUHC)
  • System-focused capital funding, including the Strategic Development Fund to help FE providers set up College Business Centres
  • UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is expected to replace EU Structural Funds in 2023, including ESF

As described, some programmes are covered by parts of the Adult Education Budget (AEB). Since August 2019, a proportion of the AEB has been devolved to mayoral combined authorities (MCAs) and the Greater Local Authority (GLA), which means that certain adult education functions that support apprenticeship, traineeships and sector-based work academies are delegated to the relevant MCA or the GLA.


The picture of provision for this wide-ranging group of programmes is much more disparate covering local and national training providers, employment support providers, local voluntary/third sector organisations and local authorities themselves. The table of other programmes at the bottom of this page provides links to further information and in many cases lists of providers, where available for the programmes included in this project.

The key provider type for ESFA funded programmes is training providers - these can be colleges and other post-16 providers, LAs or ITPs which includes commercial providers, employers and third sector organisations. The 2020-21 ESFA funding allocations to training providers distributed funding to almost 1,000 organisations, about 600 of which were ITPs. From this, we can get a sense of scale in terms of numbers of providers nationally, though providers are frequently delivering multiple strands of the provision noted here.

Numbers of organisations receiving ESFA allocations 2020-21 by programme area


Number of organisations

16-18 traineeships

  • 92 organisations, mostly ITPs

19-24 traineeships


  • 67 colleges or local authorities (allocated funding)
  • 95 ITPs (procured funding)

Sector-based Work Academies

  • 141 colleges or local authorities (allocated funding)
  • 103 ITPs (procured funding)


  • Adult
  • 16-18


  • 591 organisations, mix of ITPs and colleges
  • 558 organisations, as above – considerable overlap between these

Advanced Learning Loans and Bursaries

  • 495 organisations, mix of ITPs and colleges


Interactive map

Table: contracted programmes

The project identifies 22 nationally contracted programmes, and described a further 27 programmes that are not contracted. This is detailed in the two tables below. It describes some individual programmes, for instance Access to Work, Work and Health Programme, which are contracted or delivered in multiple ways which will result in multiple providers and arrangements. Note: The LGA will review the list of national programmes in 2022. To the best of our knowledge all programmes are correct as of April 2021.





Govt Dept / Funding agency

Funding commitment

Access to     Work: Assessments

Personalised employment support to help disabled people start or stay in work by providing practical and financial support workplace assessments of needs

Adults with disability

Two national contracts


2020-2024: £30 million


Access to Work: Mental Health

Personalised employment support to help disabled people start or stay in work by providing practical and financial support through mental health support

Adults with disability

Two national contracts


2020-2024: £30 million

Intensive Personalised Employment Support (IPES)

Voluntary provision for people with disabilities and/or complex barriers to employment. Provides intense, personal, flexible package for up to 21 months, including in-work support for those who get a job

Unemployed with specialist needs

UAEHRS framework:

6 CPAs (5 - England, 1 - Wales)


2020-2024: £38 million

Job Finding Support

COVID-19 recovery intervention: 12 month voluntary provision offering an online, one-to-one service for the recently unemployed


Serco - national contract


2020- 2022: £40 million announced. Current contract £10 million

New Enterprise Allowance (NEA)

Mentoring support and financial assistance to support the move into self-employment. Eligible participants are referred to the scheme by Jobcentre Plus

Self-employed UC claimants

Delivered across 14 CPAs 


To 2023: £42.6 million

DWP and ESF funded   


COVID-19 recovery intervention: Employment support for long-term unemployed. Provides 12 months of tailored support

Long-term unemployed

Nationally contracted CAEHRS framework – 12 CPAs


2021-2024: £2.9 billion

WHP: Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS)

COVID-19 recovery intervention: employment support for those who lost jobs because of COVID-19, including advice on moving into new sectors. WHP (Core) contracts extended to deliver JETS


6 CPAs
Devolved (London & Greater Manchester)


2020-2022: £238 million

DWP and ESF funded  

Work and Health Programme (WHP Core)

Employment support for people with health conditions and disabilities, as well as the long-term unemployed, and certain priority groups (known as early access groups) to enter into and stay in work. Contracts by the DWP

Long term unemployed
Disadvantaged groups

6 CPAs
Devolved (London & Greater Manchester)


2018/19: £46 million

DWP and ESF funded


Career Changers in to teaching

Series of programmes aimed at recruiting experienced business leaders and talented PhD graduates into teaching. National contract split between three national contracts: Now Teach, Transition to Teach, Researchers in Schools

Career changers into teaching

National contracts with regional focus


2020: £10 million

High Potential Initial Teacher Training and Leadership Development Programme

Participants work as unqualified teachers in year 1 while undertaking training leading to qualified teacher status (QTS) and then as newly qualified teachers in the second year


National Teach First


September 2021: £35 million

Information, Advice and Support Programme (IASP)

Provision to ensure children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and their families have access to impartial information, advice and support about services and support on offer

Children and young people with special educational needs



Ended March 2021: £25 million

National Careers Service

Area-based careers services provide local information, advice and guidance to complement nationally run website and contact centre

Young people (13+)

Nationally contracted


3 year contracts – end March 2022

National Citizen Service (NCS)

Voluntary personal and social development programme for young people post GCSE

Young people - 16-17

National with delivery partners  

DCMS / NCS Trust

2018-19: £121.8 million


Step up to Social Work

Intensive, 14-month, full-time programme for trainee social workers. They work in a local authority while undertaking academic learning and receive a bursary. On completion, they register and practice as qualified social workers

Career changers

National contract delivered with 141 local authorities

National recruitment supplier
HE and LA providers

2022-23: £300,000

Think Ahead

National pathway for post-graduate Mental Health Social Work. Training run by Think Ahead, a charity

Career changers



2021-22: £27 million

Traineeships 18-24

Education and training programme with unpaid work placement to help young people become ready for work or an apprenticeship. Provision is contracted with employers receiving a financial incentive to provide work placement

Young people

Nationally contracted


2021- 23: £233.5 million


Skills/Digital Bootcamps

Free, flexible courses of just 12 to 16 weeks give people the opportunity to build up sector-specific and digital skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Piloted across 6 areas with national contracts roll-out in May 2021

In work and unemployed with sector focus


DfE (National Skills Fund)

National 12-month rollout (May 2021)

DWP CFO European Social Fund 2014 to 2020

Programme delivering projects aimed at improving employment opportunities for unemployed or inactive people in 28 LEP areas across England


LEP areas


DWP/ ESF funded

Skill Support for the Unemployed (SSU)

Classroom-based qualifications for unemployed learners, includes individualised programmes of learning and support, to overcome barriers to participation



Devolved in London

Education and Skills Funding Agency / ESF

2019-2023: £75 million

Skills Support for the Workforce

Supports employees in employment working in SMEs to upskill and progress within work
Strand 1: support for the workforce.
Strand 2: support for unemployed

Facing / recently faced redundancy


Devolved in London



2019-2023: £145 million 


Supporting NEETs

Provides learning opportunities for young people aged 15-24 at risk of becoming NEET or already unemployed



Devolved in London



2019-2023:  £54 million

Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) 2014-2020 and 2021-2023

EU youth employment initiative targeting NEETs. Only available to areas that fit the eligibility criteria in terms of youth unemployment rates

Young People NEET

Eligible NUTS2 areas within LEPs


2014-20: £490 million

2021-23: £25.5 million

Table: other programmes





Gov Dept / Funding agency

Funding commitment

16 to 19 - grant funded

Continued learning after GCSEs, BTECs or the age of 16 in further education settings: General FE Colleges, 6th form colleges, 6th forms, training providers, local authorities, higher education institutions

Young people - 16-19

Further education settings


2018-19: £5.7 billion

Access to work (AtW)

Employment support to help disabled people start or stay in work through practical and financial support (e.g. special aids / equipment, adaptations, support workers, travel to and in work, workplace assessment)

People with a disability or health condition




2018-19: £129 million

Adult Education budget (AEB)
Allocated /formula funding

Allocated funding for adult training to target and support more disadvantaged learners (non-devolved England). Includes Community Learning (CL), 19-24 traineeships, High value course offer, Sector based work academies (SWAPs)

Adults - 19+

Further education settings


2020-21: £615.5 million

Adult Education Budget (AEB)

Procured funding for adult training to support disadvantaged learners in non-devolved England. Includes statutory entitlements, 19-24 traineeships, Learner Support (LS), high value course offer, Sector-based Work Academies (SWAPs)

Adults - 19+

Further education settings (215)


2020-21: £88 million

2021-22: £73million (no longer covers 18-24 traineeships and more devolved areas)

Advanced Learner Loans and Bursaries

Loans and bursaries to support students accessing non-HE 19+ education with fees or other costs

Adults - 19+

FE colleges
Training providers



2021-21: £273 million (other AEB funding)

Apprenticeship Levy

Paid employment with a skills development programme.
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) provides support to employers. From April 2021 all new apprenticeships will be managed and funded using the digital apprenticeship service

Young people,

training providers,
assessment organisations,

DfE / employer funded,

2021-22: £2.5 billion. ESFA funding (majority from Levy payments and underspends)

Apprenticeships - procured non-levy

As above. Non-levy payers can reserve funding from government for up to 10 apprentices in 2021-22

Young people,

Employers training providers,
assessment organisations,


Apprentice levy, ESFA

Government pays 100% of training costs for employers with less than 50 employees, and 95% of training costs for employers with over 50 employees

Building Better Opportunities

Tackles poverty and social exclusion

Disadvantaged people

Partner organisations/


2014-2022: £300 million. National Lottery, Community Fund, ESF

Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC)

Arm’s length body tasked with driving careers provision in schools and colleges. Core objectives set out by the DfE to scale up local networks, support careers leaders and back proven ideas

Young people - 13-18

32 careers hubs

DfE grant funding

2019/20 - £21.3 million grant funding 

Community Grants

Offers grants (£5,000 to £20,000) to small and voluntary organisations to help individuals progress towards employability / access to employment


Multiple local grant holders


To 2023: £36 million

Flexible Support Fund (FSF)

‘Barriers payments’ to help people move closer to work (e.g. clothes for job interview), and by JCP purchase additional local provision and to fund local partnerships




2019-2020: £40 million.
£150 million  boost announced (Plan for Jobs)

Green Recovery Challenge Fund

Short-term competitive fund to kick-start environmental renewal and create / retain jobs. Open to environmental charities and partners with grants from £50k to £5 million

Green jobs



£80 million : in two rounds of £40 million 

Help to Grow

Scheme for 30,000 SMEs to upskill and boost productivity over three years. 12-week subsidised management training programme to ‘enhance the skills of leaders’ e.g. financial management and digital adoption


Not known

Not known

2021-22: £60 million 2022-23: additional £75 million


Funding to employers to create short-term (6 month) paid job placements for 16–24 year-olds on Universal Credit  at risk of long-term unemployment

Young people

Delivered by employers and 700 Kickstart Gateways


Ends March 2022: £2 billion.

Levelling up Fund (LUF)

Capital investment in local infrastructure to regenerate town centres, improve local transport, and maintain cultural, heritage and civic assets

Local authorities

Local solutions

Cross department fund

2020-2024: £4 billion. Further £800 million for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Life Chances Fund (LCF)

Supports people with complex social problems. A payment by results contract involving social investors

Disadvantaged people

Local solutions


2016-2025: £80 million (9 years).
Excludes Greater Manchester, where LCF is devolved

Sector-based work academy programme (SWAPs)

Developed with employers for sectors with high demand / vacancies to help unemployed benefit claimants gain skills and work experience

Jobseekers, especially young people

Jobcentre Plus, local employers, training providers

DfE funded
DWP led


2020-21: £13.2 million. Plan for Jobs doubled SWAP capacity from 40,000 to 80,000 opportunities

Strategic Development Fund / College Business Centres

Part of FE reforms to support FE providers develop tailored skills plans to meet local training needs and develop College Business Centres to drive collaboration with employers

Training providers

Colleges / training providers,
business groups


2021: £65 million

Supported internships

Employer based programmes with personalised 1:1 support for young people with Education and Health Care Plans (EHCP)

Young people with EHCP

FE providers, schools, charities, local / community organisations,




Towns Fund

Invests in deprived towns as. First 101 towns selected to develop proposals in July 2019

Local authorities

LA-led Town Deal Boards

Co-funding / match funding encouraged

£3.6 billion in total


Education and training programme with unpaid work placement to help young people become ready for work or an apprenticeship.

Procured for 2020-21 but nationally contracted for 2021-22, with employers receiving a financial incentive to provide work placements

Young people

Training providers,
employers, NAS



2020-21: AEB
(16-18 and 19-24  traineeships)

16-18 (AEB allocation).
19-24 (nationally contracted) 

Troubled Families Programme (TFP)

Targeted interventions for families experiencing multiple problems, including crime, anti-social behaviour, truancy, unemployment, mental health problems and domestic abuse

Disadvantaged people

Local authorities


2015-20: £1.1 billion committed to March 2021.
2021-22: £165 million   

Renewal Fund

UK-wide fund for pilots to support people and communities most in need. 100 priority places invited to submit shortlisted proposals for 2021-22 only

Local authorities

Delivered by successful applicants 


2020-21: £220 million 

UK Shared
Prosperity Fund

Launching in 2022 to replace EU structural funds, including ESF


Not known



Union Learning 
Fund (ULF)

Supports learning of all workers. Works with employers, employees and learning providers to encourage greater take up of learning in the workplace 



ESF match funded

~£11 million  per ending April 2021

Youth Employment Programme

13-week programme delivered by JCP work coaches, which draws on other programmes and support. Part of DWP expanded Youth Offer to increase intensive support for young jobseekers

Unemployed young people - 18-24



No direct funding - wrapper for other programmes 

Youth Hubs

100 new youth hubs, co-located / co-delivered in local communities and bringing together JCP work coaches, partners and providers to deliver youth services in a joined up way

Unemployed young people - 18-24

Local delivery partners

DWP Flexible Support Fund

Not known