An investment of almost £17m by the Convergence European Social Fund has been announced to help over 12,000 youngsters between the ages of 14 and 19 in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea to remain in school and further education.
The ENGAGE Local Authority and Further Education Scheme will target youngsters who are suffering from underachievement, high levels of absenteeism or are at risk of dropping out and give them assistance and support for them to stay in education and gain the qualifications they need to improve their chances of success later in life.
Welsh Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan, welcomed the plans:
"It is vitally important that young people have the opportunity to remain in education and improve their skills if they are going to do well in today’s job market.
In particular, we need to look at those youngsters who, for whatever reason, become disengaged from the learning system, and do what we can to get them back on track. The ENGAGE project will provide alternative vocational training, work placements, one-to-one help and ways to raise levels of self-esteem to encourage young people to stay in education for longer.
As well as operating in schools and FE colleges, there will be a range of outreach settings so that children who are falling outside of mainstream education can benefit fully from what the scheme has to offer."
The FE colleges involved are Neath Port Talbot College, Swansea College, Gorseinon College, Coleg Sir Gar, Pembrokeshire College and Coleg Ceredigion. Other organisations involved include: Youth Inclusion Services, third sector agencies and other appropriate organisations providing specific services to support the target groups.