European Social Fund

The European Social Fund exists to extend employment opportunities, invest in jobs and skills, and create a skilled and adaptable workforce. The ESF transforms the lives of people across England by working with people at a disadvantage in the labour market – assisting them to gain better skills and look forward to better job prospects. The ESF helps to increase employment by contributing to policies to help more unemployed people to develop the skills they have, acquire new ones, and enter sustainable jobs, improving their futures and those of their families.

How does the ESF in England link to wider employment and skills activity across Europe?

The ESF in England and across Europe has a common aim: to promote employment and skills. The ESF is one of the EU’s “Structural Funds”, set up to reduce differences in prosperity and standards of living across EU Member States and regions. In Europe, ESF funding is spread across Member States and regions, with an emphasis on those where economic development is not so advanced.  This works in much the same way as the ESF allocations in England are based on local employment and skills needs – for example, the numbers of people not in work and who do not have good qualifications.

The ESF is a key element of the Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth targeted at improving the lives of EU citizens by giving them better skills and better job prospects. Find out more about Europe 2020 by watching an interview with Peter Stub Jorgensen, Director of DG Employment.

Job In Construction

What will happen to the European Social Fund?

The current phase of European Structural Funds, including ESF and the Member States and European Commission are currently making plans for what will follow. Exactly what this will be will become clearer over 2011 and 2012, however, the key aims and objectives for future Structural Funds will be closely tied to the Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The economic downturn hit hard, and the aim of Europe 2020 is to achieve a sustainable future for Europe’s member states, in short, to create better jobs and better lives for those who need it most.

Key Facts about the European Social Fund:

  • In England the European Social Fund is investing £2.5 billion between 2007 and 2013, which is matched by £2.5 billion of national funding.
  • By the end of November 2010 there had been over 2.4 million participant starts on the programme. Of those who had left the programme by November 2010, ESF had helped around 172,000 unemployed or inactive participants into jobs, 79,244 participants had gained basic skills,  249,482 participants had gained qualifications at level 2 or above and 220,956 young people had been helped into employment or learning.
  • The types of support available to people participating in ESF projects includes: job search support, interview techniques, confidence building, mentoring, help with CV writing, pre-employment and work placement opportunities, help to gain basic skills and vocational qualifications – and support after people start work.

What does ESF-Works do?

ESF-Works is for all professionals and policy makers working in the areas of employment and skills, regardless of their European funding experience. Projects from all parts of England are represented on the site, which showcases learning and effective practice from a wide variety of ESF activities.

Relevant resources, news and practice examples will be progressively added to ESF-Works over the programme period. ESF projects are represented by showcasing and celebrating the wide range of ESF activities that are taking place, including project overviews; participant interviews; achievements; and additional information from the projects. ESF-Works is the showcase and forum for policy and practice lessons from the 2007-2013 European Social Fund (ESF) programme in England.