A recent independent evaluation of our Active Inclusion Fund looked at learning for future employability programmes and policy. Here are our ten key takeaways from the interim report.
The Active Inclusion Fund provides grants for projects in Wales that help disadvantaged people get back into employment. We’ve funded a huge variety of projects that support people who have multiple challenges to move towards work, or provide them with paid supported employment and, for those ready, help into longer term work.
The Active Inclusion Fund is managed by WCVA, supported by funding from European Structural and Investment Funds. As we enter the final stages of this EU funded scheme, RCS (UK Research and Consultancy Services Ltd) have produced an interim report ahead of the final report, which is due in September 2022.
KEY CONCLUSIONS OF THE REPORT
The interim report gives an independent evaluation that draws on four and a half years of research from the lifetime of the Active Inclusion Fund. With uncertainty about future funding for such schemes, and the involvement of voluntary organisations in their delivery, the lessons learnt from the Active Inclusion Fund and those delivering Active Inclusion projects come at an important time.
The key points highlighted in the report included:
- Active Inclusion enables organisations to deliver a highly tailored approach to supporting individuals – something that’s essential for success in working with disadvantaged people
- The Active Inclusion Fund was successful in supporting ‘hard to reach’ people, made a difference, and gave those running Active Inclusion funded projects a genuine sense of achievement
- Help with EU processes from WCVA was well regarded especially in enabling projects to adapt and continue during the pandemic
- The voluntary sector’s role in employability programmes is essential – its proximity to the most vulnerable means it is reaching people that might otherwise fall through the gaps
- Emotional intelligence and familiarity with target groups was a key element of support provided by Active Inclusion projects
- The Active Inclusion Fund enabled participants to engage in a range of interventions that led to the opportunity to enter sustainable employment. This would be enhanced by increased coordination across multiple agencies
- Active Inclusion projects were successful in creating independence not dependence for the disadvantaged people supported through the programme
- During the pandemic, the most successful support came from those adopting new ways of working while continuing to address individual needs. Those with close relationships with participants were most successful in this area.
- Successful projects that operated during the pandemic addressed digital literacy and poverty, including providing equipment – an issue which is unlikely to go away. This also benefitted families, and participants who probably wouldn’t normally engage face to face
- Active Inclusion projects advised that employability services in the future were likely to be a hybrid of face to face and digital support
We’d like to thank Welsh Government, the Evaluation Steering Group and the WCVA Economic Inactivity Panel for their help and insight. We’re also grateful to all the many organisations and individuals who gave their time generously in interviews, discussions and workshops to inform this work to date.