Commencing in 2009, a consortium led by WISERD undertook the 2009 ESF Leavers’ Survey. Other members of the consortium included Professor Max Munday of the Welsh Economy Research Unit (also of Cardiff University), Mark Winterbotham and colleagues at IFF Research Ltd and Gareth Williams of Old Bell 3 Ltd. The aim of the 2009 ESF Leavers’ Survey was to understand the characteristics and outcomes of those participating in ESF projects.
To achieve this, two surveys were conducted with participants. The first telephone survey was conducted during February and March 2010 among a group of people who were identified as having left an ESF project during 2009. Due to the timing of the enquiry, the survey only covers those participants who had completed projects conducted under Priority 2 and 3 of the ESF Convergence Programme during 2009. To consider the sustainability of outcomes from ESF participation, a second wave of telephone interviews was conducted with respondents approximately six months after the completion of the Wave 1 interviews. Individuals were interviewed during February / March 2010 (Wave 1) and again during August / September (Wave 2). A 40% response rate was achieved for wave 1 and a 67% response rate was achieved for wave 2. This gave an overall response rate of 25%.
The questionnaire covered the following areas:
The most important evidence from the ESF Leavers’ Surveys relates to outcomes. The 2009 Leavers’ Survey has much that is positive to say, particularly given the very difficult labour market circumstances. Among participants from Priority 2 projects, the share who were in employment increased from 11% prior to ESF to 39% by the time of the Wave 2 survey. A quarter of employed respondents to the Wave 1 survey who either did not have a job prior to ESF or who were in a different job reported that ESF support was “vital” in getting their job. In terms of softer outcomes, the findings of the 2009 Leavers’ Survey also show high levels of participants reporting increasing confidence in capabilities, and feeling better about themselves generally. Outcomes also reflected the development of new social networks, and health related outcomes. The Leavers’ Survey suggests that ESF interventions have helped diminish the extent to which poor skills are perceived as a barrier to progression. However, for those respondents still outside the labour market a number of barriers remain. While lack of available jobs was the most commonly cited barrier, lack of or poor transport was also seen as a barrier by around 45% of those still unemployed. This was significantly greater than, for example, lack of affordable childcare.
The final report is available from the WEFO website and can be accessed by clicking here.
A power point presentation providing a summary of key findings can be downloaded here.