A project to help young people with learning disabilities in South Wales make the transition from education to employment has received a funding boost from the EU. Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Regional SEN Transition to Employment project has been backed with £8.8 million from the European Social Fund. The project will target young people with special educational needs and severe and complex needs. It aims to address the gap in support for 14-19 year olds who are making the transition between full-time education and employment by focusing on 5 areas: lifelong learning, relationships, leisure opportunities, employment and independent living.

Taking a person centred approach, this multi-agency initiative will focus on bringing down the barriers that prevent young people with severe and complex needs from participating in everyday activities and becoming more independent. It aims to increase the skill base of participants, volunteer mentors and carers by delivering support and accredited training courses tailored to the needs of the individual. The project will also work with more than 700 employers and introduce a bank of organisations within each region that can offer work experience and paid employment. It will operate with other local authorities in Bridgend, Carmarthenshire, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea, and Torfaen.

Deputy minister for European programmes, Alun Davies AM said: “Raising aspirations and motivating young people, and others in their lives, through increased participation in learning, volunteering and employment opportunities will not only create more fulfilling futures for these individuals, but also enable them to play a valuable role in our communities. I am delighted that our successful management of EU resources has enabled us to back this project which will deliver further opportunities for people across the region.”

Deputy minister for skills, Jeff Cuthbert, said: “Developing skills is crucial to helping people get into work and to provide Welsh business with the workforce they need to help them thrive. This new project is great news and will hopefully help more young people with learning disabilities find rewarding, full-time employment.”