Evaluation of Equality Mainstreaming in ESF Objective
Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in ESF
Local Impact of ESF Objective Funding
Three reports are published today by the Department for Work and
Pensions which present findings on themes within the England European
Social Fund (ESF) Objective 3 programme up until the mid-term (end
The report Evaluation of Equality Mainstreaming in ESF Objective 3
reviewed the effectiveness of the implementation of equality
mainstreaming in the England Objective 3 Programme at national,
regional and project level. The study was informed by interviews
with national and regional stakeholders, a review of relevant policy
documents at national and regional level, analysis of recent
administrative and survey data and 15 case studies of projects in
order to identify good practice.
Among the main findings it is indicated that:
* At national level, a robust system of equality mainstreaming has
been introduced into the England Objective 3 Programme which covers
gender, race and disability.
* At regional level, equality mainstreaming plans have also been
produced. However, the regions need to produce more effective
implementation strategies as the pace of implementation is uneven.
* The proportions of women and ethnic minority participants who have
received support from the programme are above forecast, although the
numbers of disabled participants are slightly lower than forecast.
* Projects provided a variety of support for people with disabilities
to enable them to access training. The most common were access to
premises provided by almost two thirds of projects and specialist
provision offered by almost a half. Altogether around two thirds of
projects made some sort of provision for people with disabilities.
The second report The Use of Information and Communication
Technologies (ICT) in ESF Supported Projects, looked at the impact of
the Objective 3 Programme on the Information Society and the role ICT
is playing within Objective 3. The research used a mixture of
qualitative and quantitative methods, involving interviews with key
players, a postal survey of projects and 12 case studies.
Some of the main findings showed that:
* In general there is a good alignment between Objective 3 ESF
priorities and wider UK Government/regional policies. Promoting
wider access to ICT and helping a wide range of individuals improve
their ICT related skills has become the 'received wisdom'.
* The role of ICT within ESF project management activities was
substantial (77 per cent of survey respondents planned to use ICT
extensively in project management and monitoring), although they tend
to draw on existing systems.
* Overall there seems to be generally good results in relation to
beneficiaries increasing their ICT skills as a result of ESF support
(51 per cent of projects which responded tothe postal survey
indicated that half of beneficiaries or more improved their ICT
* ESF-supported projects played an important role in tackling the
'digital divide', as among those who improved their ICT skills were
the unemployed, young people, returners to the labour market and lone
The third report to be published The Local Impact of ESF Objective 3
Funding assessed the impact of ESF at the local level and whether
ESF is meeting local needs, including those of rural areas. The
research included contacting ESF funded projects (a postal survey of
over 600 and 25 case studies), interviews with key players and a
review of programming documents.
Some of the main findings indicated that:
* The new system of co-financing provides scope to sharpen the focus
on local needs, and to help local groups participate by easing some
of the problems with match funding and complex procedures that
deterred applicants under the old bidding system.
* Objective 3 has a positive, although limited impact, on local
systems and structures - with ESF helping many local/community
organisations to become more involved in partnership activity.
* Capacity building funding appears to play a small but important
role in helping local organisations to get involved in ESF and
* ESF supports a range of projects that are addressing the needs of
rural areas. Generally rural based projects feel ESF funding is
geared to meeting these needs, but have raised issues about their
capacity to deliver in rural areas and unit costs.
* There is room to improve understanding of sustainable development
issues in ESF as these are not yet fully embedded in ESF.
The European Social Fund is an EU fund which supports employment and
training projects in the member states. About£2.9bn of ESF
Objective 3 funding is available in Great Britain in 2000-06. The
funding supports the following priorities:
* helping unemployed and inactive people into work
* providing opportunities for people at a disadvantage in the labour
* promoting lifelong learning
* developing the skills of employed people
* improving women's participation in the labour market
Evaluation of Equality Mainstreaming in ESF Objective 3 by Carolyn
Hay, Ginnie Betts and Stephen Murray of ECOTEC Research and
Consultancy Ltd. The report is published in the Department for Work
and Pensions In-house Report Series (Report No. 141, ISBN 1 84388 277
The Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in ESF
Supported Projects' by CRG. The report is published in the Department
for Work and Pensions In-house Report Series (Report No. 138, ISBN 1
84388 274 4).
The Local Impact of ESF Objective 3 Funding by the Policy Research
Institute at Leeds Metropolitan University, the Centre for Regional
Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University and the
Institute for Employment Studies. The report is published in the
Department for Work and Pensions In-house Report Series (Report No.
140, ISBN 1 84388 276 0).