European Social Fund (ESF)?

The European Social Fund (ESF) is the European Union’s main way of supporting employment in the member states of the European Union (EU) as well as promoting economic and social cohesion. ESF spending amounts to around 10% of the EU’s total budget – that’s some big bucks!

So why is ESF of relevance to learndirect? ESF spending aims to support the creation of more and better jobs in the EU, which it does by co-funding national, regional and local projects which improve the levels of employment, the quality of jobs, and the inclusiveness of the labour market. It is managed via seven-year cycles. The ESF strategy and budget is negotiated between the EU Member States, the European Parliament and the EU Commission. For the current ESF funding cycle (2014-20) the objectives are:

  • Getting people into jobs: the ESF will support organisations around the EU to put in place projects aimed at training people and helping them get work. Initiatives supporting entrepreneurs with start-up funding and companies who need to cope with restructuring or a lack of qualified workers will also be funded. Helping young people enter the labour market will be a top priority for the ESF in all EU countries.
  • Social inclusion: employment is the most effective way of giving people independence, financial security and a sense of belonging. The ESF finances projects which help people in difficulty and those from disadvantaged groups to get skills and jobs and have the same opportunities as others.
  • Better education: Across the EU the ESF is financing initiatives to improve education and training and ensure young people complete their education and get the skills that make them more competitive on the job market.
  • Stronger public administration: The ESF will support Member States’ efforts to improve the quality of public administration and governance.

Much of this will sound familiar, and is what we do on a day-to-day basis. We will be sharing more info in coming months on ESF and what it may mean for you and what you need to do to meet ESF funding guidelines.