The UK’s National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) is the UK Government’s strategy for investing its Structural Fund allocations in England, in line with the Community Strategic Guidelines (CSG) and the Government’s regional policy agenda. For the England ESFi programme, the NSRF sets two priorities for the Programme that will apply in Competitiveness & Employment regions, which provide a framework for determining priorityi interventions and funding allocations.

The two priorities in the 2007-2013 programme are:

  • PRIORITY 1: Extending Employment Opportunities This priority supports projects to tackle the barriers to work faced by unemployed and disadvantaged people.
  • PRIORITY 2: Developing a Skilled and Adaptable Workforce This priority supports projects to train people who do not have basic skills and qualifications needed in the workplace.

These two Priorities contained in the national ESF Programme provide the structure for the North West ESF Plan. These Priorities are derived from the two key overarching employment and skills aspects of the Lisbon Agenda and CSG.

  • Priority 1: Extending Employment Opportunities
    • Improving employability and skills of unemployed and economically inactive people;
    • Tackling barriers to work faced by disadvantaged groups: people with disabilities and those with health conditions; lone parents; older workers; BME communities; people with low skills; and those living in deprived communities; and
    • Reducing the number of young people who are not in education, employment of training (NEET).
  • Priority 2: Developing a Skilled and Adaptable Workforce
    • Reducing the numbers of people without basic skills and Level 2 qualifications and training to Level 3 to address intermediate skills shortages; and
    • Provide higher level skills training in small enterprises (up to 50 workers) and training trainers to deliver ESF services.

In order to support the key objectives of the Lisbon Agenda and the CSG, the National ESF Programme and North West ESF Framework has an emphasis on:

  • Attracting more people into employment, especially disadvantaged groups and the economically inactive; and
  • Improving the skills of potential and current workers to improve individual progression and ultimately business competiveness.