Chesterfield Borough Council has received praise for its handling of a scheme to get people back into work.
The council ran the Working Neighborhoods Fund programme over four years to help the long term unemployed, particularly those from deprived areas, to get back into work or start their own business.
An independent evaluator has found the scheme to be a great success despite the increasingly challenging economic climate.
The scheme included an apprenticeship programme and a number of external projects to engage local unemployed people into a number of back to work training initiatives.
The apprenticeship scheme supported 30 young people (aged 18-25) by providing paid work and training for up to 18 months.
Twenty five of these young people gained qualifications at level 2 or equivalent and five of these went on to gain level 3 qualifications. By the end of the scheme only three people had dropped out and 50% gained employment as a direct result of their apprenticeships. This number is likely to have increased in the months following completion due to the work experience and qualifications gained while on the scheme.
The success of the external projects was also highlighted in the report, which confirmed that 3,170 people have received support in various forms. Of this number, 735 people moved directly into paid work and 40 trading businesses were established. Importantly, with youth unemployment running high in the borough, over 1,300 16-18 year olds were assisted back into employment, education or training.
The council worked with partner agencies such as Jobcentre Plus, Connexions and the Skills Funding Agency and others to deliver the WNF programme.
Cllr John Burrows, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council said: “We’re delighted that the WNF programme has been able to have such a positive impact on unemployment locally and we are working hard to ensure that programme has an effective legacy. It’s disappointing that government funding for the programme has now ended as it puts a stop on future activities for such local initiatives.”