France is using ESF support to combat unemployment and help those most affected by it to find jobs. Job-seekers from many different social groups are taking part in programmes to get the skills they need and overcome any obstacles they face to getting a job.
The ESF is helping workers and job-seekers to become more flexible through encouraging lifelong learning and vocational training as sources for the new skills that are demanded on the jobs market. Young people are combining work placements with formal training to improve their job prospects, while older workers are getting the skills updates they need to support their experience and boost their value to employers. These initiatives have a wide scope: for example on Réunion Island, fishermen have gained the professional management skills they need to flourish, while throughout France in small family enterprises, owners are learning how to pass on know-how to their successors, and workers the skills needed to take businesses over.
The ESF is also working to prevent long-term unemployment, for example with childcare-provision projects to help young mothers back to work, and retraining schemes for workers in industrial sectors hit by job losses.
Many initiatives are under way to help people facing obstacles to work. Mentoring schemes, training opportunities, networking and career guidance are just some of the measures the ESF is using. Often the focus is on young people from deprived urban areas where unemployment is high. In one such programme, young people who could not find work were mentored by older, experienced workers and retirees who helped them find and apply for suitable jobs. And with ESF support, authorities in Picardy collaborated with local companies to identify suitable vacancies for excluded young people.
These initiatives are driven by the strong focus of ESF funding on combating discrimination, including discrimination at work, and on improving job prospects for low-skilled young people, disabled people and those with an immigrant background.