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Mapping national employment and skills provision

This project sets out to help local authorities across England build a better understanding of how employment and skills provision, which can seem complex and fragmented, is commissioned and delivered.

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As most employment and skills provision is commissioned and procured nationally by Government departments or their agencies, it can be difficult for local authorities’ employment and skills teams to know what support is available and when.

The LGA commissioned Research Matters to look into this and describe the current picture of national employment and skills programmes. It identified 22 nationally contracted programmes and a further 27 programmes that are not contracted. Where possible it describes how these programmes are delivered across England. The tools below have been designed to help improve conversations between local and national government on how to collaborate on existing provision by geography and any future opportunity.

The full report is available to download on Research Matters website.

This project is part of the LGA's Improvement Support Programme, funded by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

About Research Matters

Research Matters is a strategic business research agency based in York.  It works with a wide range of organisations to deliver a reliable fact and evidence base, insightful context and competitive intelligence to help them make informed decisions. They have produced a blog which highlights more about this resource and how it can help to untangle government funding.

Contracted provision of employment and skills programmes

Local snapshots

Other non-contracted provision of employment and skills programmes

Interactive map

Table: contracted programmes

The project identifies 22 nationally contracted programmes, and described a further 27 programmes that are not contracted. This is detailed in the two tables below. It describes some individual programmes, for instance Access to Work, Work and Health Programme, which are contracted or delivered in multiple ways which will result in multiple providers and arrangements. Note: To the best of our knowledge all programmes are correct as of April 2021

Programme Description Cohort Delivery Govt Dept / Funding agency Funding commitment
Access to     Work: Assessments Personalised employment support to help disabled people start or stay in work by providing practical and financial support workplace assessments of needs Adults with disability Two national contracts DWP

2020-2024: £30 million


Access to Work: Mental Health Personalised employment support to help disabled people start or stay in work by providing practical and financial support through mental health support Adults with disability Two national contracts DWP 2020-2024: £30 million
Intensive Personalised Employment Support (IPES) Voluntary provision for people with disabilities and/or complex barriers to employment. Provides intense, personal, flexible package for up to 21 months, including in-work support for those who get a job Unemployed with specialist needs

UAEHRS framework:

6 CPAs (5 - England, 1 - Wales)

DWP 2020-2024: £38 million
Job Finding Support COVID-19 recovery intervention: 12 month voluntary provision offering an online, one-to-one service for the recently unemployed Unemployed Serco - national contract DWP 2020- 2022: £40 million announced. Current contract £10 million
New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) Mentoring support and financial assistance to support the move into self-employment. Eligible participants are referred to the scheme by Jobcentre Plus Unemployed
Self-employed UC claimants
Delivered across 14 CPAs  DWP

To 2023: £42.6 million

DWP and ESF funded   

Restart COVID-19 recovery intervention: Employment support for long-term unemployed. Provides 12 months of tailored support Long-term unemployed Nationally contracted CAEHRS framework – 12 CPAs DWP 2021-2024: £2.9 billion
WHP: Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) COVID-19 recovery intervention: employment support for those who lost jobs because of COVID-19, including advice on moving into new sectors. WHP (Core) contracts extended to deliver JETS Unemployed 6 CPAs
Devolved (London & Greater Manchester)

2020-2022: £238 million

DWP and ESF funded  

Work and Health Programme (WHP Core) Employment support for people with health conditions and disabilities, as well as the long-term unemployed, and certain priority groups (known as early access groups) to enter into and stay in work. Contracts by the DWP Long term unemployed
Disadvantaged groups
6 CPAs
Devolved (London & Greater Manchester)

2018/19: £46 million

DWP and ESF funded


Career Changers in to teaching
Series of programmes aimed at recruiting experienced business leaders and talented PhD graduates into teaching. National contract split between three national contracts: Now Teach, Transition to Teach, Researchers in Schools Career changers into teaching National contracts with regional focus DfE 2020: £10 million
High Potential Initial Teacher Training and Leadership Development Programme Participants work as unqualified teachers in year 1 while undertaking training leading to qualified teacher status (QTS) and then as newly qualified teachers in the second year Graduates National Teach First DfE September 2021: £35 million
Information, Advice and Support Programme (IASP) Provision to ensure children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and their families have access to impartial information, advice and support about services and support on offer Children and young people with special educational needs   DfE Ended March 2021: £25 million
National Careers Service Area-based careers services provide local information, advice and guidance to complement nationally run website and contact centre Adults
Young people (13+)
Nationally contracted DfE / ESFA 3 year contracts – end March 2022
National Citizen Service (NCS) Voluntary personal and social development programme for young people post GCSE Young people - 16-17 National with delivery partners   DCMS / NCS Trust

2018-19: £121.8 million


Step up to Social Work Intensive, 14-month, full-time programme for trainee social workers. They work in a local authority while undertaking academic learning and receive a bursary. On completion, they register and practice as qualified social workers Career changers National contract delivered with 141 local authorities National recruitment supplier
HE and LA providers
2022-23: £300,000
Think Ahead National pathway for post-graduate Mental Health Social Work. Training run by Think Ahead, a charity Graduates
Career changers
National DHSC 2021-22: £27 million
Traineeships 18-24 Education and training programme with unpaid work placement to help young people become ready for work or an apprenticeship. Provision is contracted with employers receiving a financial incentive to provide work placement Young people Nationally contracted DfE ESFA

2021- 23: £233.5 million


Skills/Digital Bootcamps Free, flexible courses of just 12 to 16 weeks give people the opportunity to build up sector-specific and digital skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Piloted across 6 areas with national contracts roll-out in May 2021 In work and unemployed with sector focus   DfE (National Skills Fund) National 12-month rollout (May 2021)
DWP CFO European Social Fund 2014 to 2020 Programme delivering projects aimed at improving employment opportunities for unemployed or inactive people in 28 LEP areas across England Unemployed LEP areas  DWP DWP/ ESF funded
Skill Support for the Unemployed (SSU) Classroom-based qualifications for unemployed learners, includes individualised programmes of learning and support, to overcome barriers to participation


Devolved in London

Education and Skills Funding Agency / ESF 2019-2023: £75 million
Skills Support for the Workforce Supports employees in employment working in SMEs to upskill and progress within work
Strand 1: support for the workforce.
Strand 2: support for unemployed
Facing / recently faced redundancy


Devolved in London



2019-2023: £145 million 


Supporting NEETs Provides learning opportunities for young people aged 15-24 at risk of becoming NEET or already unemployed NEETs


Devolved in London



2019-2023:  £54 million
Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) 2014-2020 and 2021-2023 EU youth employment initiative targeting NEETs. Only available to areas that fit the eligibility criteria in terms of youth unemployment rates Young People NEET Eligible NUTS2 areas within LEPs DWP /

2014-20: £490 million

2021-23: £25.5 million

Table: other programmes

Programme Description Cohort Delivery Gov Dept / Funding agency Funding commitment
16 to 19 - grant funded Continued learning after GCSEs, BTECs or the age of 16 in further education settings: General FE Colleges, 6th form colleges, 6th forms, training providers, local authorities, higher education institutions Young people - 16-19 Further education settings DfE ESFA 2018-19: £5.7 billion
Access to work (AtW) Employment support to help disabled people start or stay in work through practical and financial support (e.g. special aids / equipment, adaptations, support workers, travel to and in work, workplace assessment) People with a disability or health condition



DWP 2018-19: £129 million
Adult Education budget (AEB)
Allocated /formula funding
Allocated funding for adult training to target and support more disadvantaged learners (non-devolved England). Includes Community Learning (CL), 19-24 traineeships, High value course offer, Sector based work academies (SWAPs) Adults - 19+ Further education settings DfE / ESFA 2020-21: £615.5 million
Adult Education Budget (AEB)
Procured funding for adult training to support disadvantaged learners in non-devolved England. Includes statutory entitlements, 19-24 traineeships, Learner Support (LS), high value course offer, Sector-based Work Academies (SWAPs) Adults - 19+ Further education settings (215) DfE / ESFA

2020-21: £88 million

2021-22: £73million (no longer covers 18-24 traineeships and more devolved areas)

Advanced Learner Loans and Bursaries Loans and bursaries to support students accessing non-HE 19+ education with fees or other costs Adults - 19+ FE colleges
Training providers



2021-21: £273 million (other AEB funding)
Apprenticeship Levy Paid employment with a skills development programme.
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) provides support to employers. From April 2021 all new apprenticeships will be managed and funded using the digital apprenticeship service
Young people,
training providers,
assessment organisations,
DfE / employer funded,
2021-22: £2.5 billion. ESFA funding (majority from Levy payments and underspends)
Apprenticeships - procured non-levy As above. Non-levy payers can reserve funding from government for up to 10 apprentices in 2021-22 Young people,
Employers training providers,
assessment organisations,


Apprentice levy, ESFA

Government pays 100% of training costs for employers with less than 50 employees, and 95% of training costs for employers with over 50 employees
Building Better Opportunities Tackles poverty and social exclusion Disadvantaged people Partner organisations/
  2014-2022: £300 million. National Lottery, Community Fund, ESF
Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) Arm’s length body tasked with driving careers provision in schools and colleges. Core objectives set out by the DfE to scale up local networks, support careers leaders and back proven ideas Young people - 13-18 CEC
32 careers hubs
DfE grant funding 2019/20 - £21.3 million grant funding 
Community Grants Offers grants (£5,000 to £20,000) to small and voluntary organisations to help individuals progress towards employability / access to employment Unemployed Multiple local grant holders ESFA
To 2023: £36 million
Flexible Support Fund (FSF) ‘Barriers payments’ to help people move closer to work (e.g. clothes for job interview), and by JCP purchase additional local provision and to fund local partnerships Unemployed JCP DWP 2019-2020: £40 million.
£150 million  boost announced (Plan for Jobs)
Green Recovery Challenge Fund Short-term competitive fund to kick-start environmental renewal and create / retain jobs. Open to environmental charities and partners with grants from £50k to £5 million Green jobs   DEFRA £80 million : in two rounds of £40 million 
Help to Grow Scheme for 30,000 SMEs to upskill and boost productivity over three years. 12-week subsidised management training programme to ‘enhance the skills of leaders’ e.g. financial management and digital adoption SMEs Not known Not known 2021-22: £60 million 2022-23: additional £75 million
Kickstart Funding to employers to create short-term (6 month) paid job placements for 16–24 year-olds on Universal Credit  at risk of long-term unemployment Young people Delivered by employers and 700 Kickstart Gateways DWP Ends March 2022: £2 billion.
Levelling up Fund (LUF) Capital investment in local infrastructure to regenerate town centres, improve local transport, and maintain cultural, heritage and civic assets Local authorities Local solutions Cross department fund 2020-2024: £4 billion. Further £800 million for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Life Chances Fund (LCF) Supports people with complex social problems. A payment by results contract involving social investors Disadvantaged people Local solutions DCMS 2016-2025: £80 million (9 years).
Excludes Greater Manchester, where LCF is devolved
Sector-based work academy programme (SWAPs) Developed with employers for sectors with high demand / vacancies to help unemployed benefit claimants gain skills and work experience Jobseekers, especially young people Jobcentre Plus, local employers, training providers

DfE funded
DWP led


2020-21: £13.2 million. Plan for Jobs doubled SWAP capacity from 40,000 to 80,000 opportunities
Strategic Development Fund / College Business Centres Part of FE reforms to support FE providers develop tailored skills plans to meet local training needs and develop College Business Centres to drive collaboration with employers Training providers Colleges / training providers,
business groups
DfE 2021: £65 million
Supported internships Employer based programmes with personalised 1:1 support for young people with Education and Health Care Plans (EHCP) Young people with EHCP FE providers, schools, charities, local / community organisations,



Towns Fund Invests in deprived towns as. First 101 towns selected to develop proposals in July 2019 Local authorities LA-led Town Deal Boards DLUHC
Co-funding / match funding encouraged
£3.6 billion in total

Education and training programme with unpaid work placement to help young people become ready for work or an apprenticeship.

Procured for 2020-21 but nationally contracted for 2021-22, with employers receiving a financial incentive to provide work placements

Young people Training providers,
employers, NAS



2020-21: AEB
(16-18 and 19-24  traineeships)

16-18 (AEB allocation).
19-24 (nationally contracted) 

Troubled Families Programme (TFP) Targeted interventions for families experiencing multiple problems, including crime, anti-social behaviour, truancy, unemployment, mental health problems and domestic abuse Disadvantaged people Local authorities DLUHC 2015-20: £1.1 billion committed to March 2021.
2021-22: £165 million   
Renewal Fund
UK-wide fund for pilots to support people and communities most in need. 100 priority places invited to submit shortlisted proposals for 2021-22 only Local authorities Delivered by successful applicants  DLUHC 2020-21: £220 million 
UK Shared
Prosperity Fund
Launching in 2022 to replace EU structural funds, including ESF   Not known    
Union Learning 
Fund (ULF)
Supports learning of all workers. Works with employers, employees and learning providers to encourage greater take up of learning in the workplace  Employed Unions DfE / TUC
ESF match funded
~£11 million  per ending April 2021
Youth Employment Programme 13-week programme delivered by JCP work coaches, which draws on other programmes and support. Part of DWP expanded Youth Offer to increase intensive support for young jobseekers Unemployed young people - 18-24 JCP DWP No direct funding - wrapper for other programmes 
Youth Hubs 100 new youth hubs, co-located / co-delivered in local communities and bringing together JCP work coaches, partners and providers to deliver youth services in a joined up way Unemployed young people - 18-24 JCP
Local delivery partners
DWP Flexible Support Fund Not known