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Applying for funding

Through Workforce for the Future we provide funding for a number of specialist delivery partners who can help our region’s small businesses better understand and engage with the skills system. The Workforce for the Future programme will run a number of funding calls to identify these partners.

Key questions

Workforce for the Future operates under Investment Priority 2.2 of the national European Social Fund Operating Programme.

All projects on the programme will need to deliver a single European Social Fund output as follows: Number of supported micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) [including co-operative enterprises and enterprises of the social economy] with 75% of those SMEs successfully completing projects (which increase employer engagement; and/or the number of people progressing into or within skills provision) – view definitions.

You can find more information on the programme in the overview and more about the example activities here.

We’re seeking applications from Individual organisations or consortia/partnerships that understand the current skills system, apprenticeships, internships and placements. We can support a range of projects of varying sizes. We're not currently open to funding applications.

Although applicants do not need to be based in the West of England, the project and its impact should be regional. We appreciate that applicants might have other locations nationally, which could in turn benefit, but the majority of the impact should be felt in our region. All applicants must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the issues specific to our region. They should also provide a comprehensive delivery and engagement strategy.

The Combined Authority reviews all submitted bids against these criteria:

  • ESF eligibility: for the project and the bid organisation(s)
  • Support of key values: including equality and diversity and sustainability
  • Strategic fit: whether the proposal supports the Local Industrial Strategy and Employment and Skills Plan objectives
  • Value for money: the cost of support to deliver the work and the level of support needed
  • Management and governance: partners involved, work needed, and the processes to monitor and record this
  • Deliverability: timeframe, engagement activities , and long-term impact
  • Other: State Aid considerations, due diligence

An internal team reviews the bids which then go to the Combined Authority’s Chief Executive Office Panel for approval.

Funding will run until 2023. Any activities the funding supports should be complete by September 2023 and all financial claims should be submitted by December 2023, at the latest.

You can view full details of the projects we currently fund in our project list here.

A minimum of 471 SMEs need to be supported through the Workforce for the Future programme, with 354 of those completing a meaningful project and 1062 learners benefitting.