ESF Widening Participation Skills Partnership

The ESF Widening Participation through Skills Project has been successful in receiving £1,500,000 as part of the 2014–2020 Growth Programme.

The Widening Participation through Skills Project aims to improve pathways from vocational programmes to higher education and to increase access for all to higher level skills training through innovative and flexible access routes which address barriers to participation. This project will particularly target those least likely to access HE including part-time employees, older workers and other disengaged and disadvantaged groups.

The project partnership is managed by the University of Plymouth. Delivery partners include Cornwall College, Truro and Penwith College, Exeter University and the Isles of Scilly Council. Small and niche providers can be supported by accessing the “flexible funding” pot which was launched in 2017 to support specific client groups and communities. To date this delegated grants scheme has resulted in engaging with three new delivery partners: Adult Education, Cornwall Council, Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change and Cornwall Film Festival.

ESF project objectives

Overall project targets: 1,806 participants undertaking an awareness raising activity, 603 participants gaining a level 3 or above or a unit of a level 3 and above qualification. 

Priority groups: employed females, participants aged 54+, ethnic minorities, those with disabilities & single adult household with dependent children.

Further information about the project objectives
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  • Targeting disadvantaged groups and neighbourhoods.
  • Developing pathways from vocational programmes to foundation degree and above.
  • Enabling fund to help reduce/remove barriers to participation.

This will be achieved through engagement and awareness raising, pre-access support, skills planning, taster activities, development and delivery of short course and modular provision and innovative methods of engaging and supporting disadvantaged learners.

The project is delivered across the whole of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with particular interventions aimed at HE cold spots.

The focus of the project is working with employed or self-employed participants. By exception, a small proportion of participants can be unemployed or economically inactive, e.g. response to redundancy, higher level skills need. Participants should be without a relevant qualification at Level 4. There are no fixed prior attainment requirements. Activities must be delivered in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.