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The ESF in France

France is using ESF support to combat unemployment among young people and older jobseekers while upgrading the skills of workers. Social inclusion measures are underway in the French regions as are initiatives to boost education opportunities.

France is taking a strongly decentralised approach to maximise the benefits of cohesion funding in its mainland and overseas regions. ESF investments are underway through 33 operational programmes, mostly in combination with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Total ESF funding amounts to over €6 billion including €620 million for the Youth Employment Initiative.

Promoting employability

France is helping unemployed and inactive people to get back into the labour force. Skill upgrades, training in new skills and opportunities to get relevant qualifications are all on offer. These efforts have a special focus on young people and older jobseekers. Young jobseekers can count on one-to-one counselling, training courses and ESF-funded work placements and apprenticeships to help them take the important first steps into work. Older workers and jobseekers are retraining for new industries or upgrading their skills to meet new challenges. Funding is also supporting worker and trainee mobility, in the crossborder and outermost regions, further supported through the EURES initiative.

For people in work, the ESF in France is promoting the higher-skilled jobs the economy needs: helping the low-skilled with training and qualifications, retraining workers made redundant, and encouraging businesses to value their workers and commit to equal opportunities. These investments are vital for ensuring both workers and businesses can adapt better to changing circumstances and boost the competitiveness of the French economy.

Social measures

France is building a more inclusive society with initiatives to help those at risk of poverty and social exclusion, for example the disabled and those without skills or qualifications. Local and regional authorities are playing a key role – developing local solutions for local problems, for example in France’s overseas regions where they are combating illiteracy and giving local workers new skills. There is support for social enterprises and complementary ERDF and ESF funding is helping vulnerable groups such as the elderly, marginalised communities and young people with infrastructure and projects to help integration.

Regional investments in education aim to reduce the school drop-out rate to under 10% and reduce disparities in educational opportunities between regions. For young people with no qualifications, projects such as the ‘Second Chance Schools’ are helping them get the skills they need for a job. And improvements to the relevance and flexibility of tertiary education are opening up the prospect of higher qualifications to more young people.