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Opening pathways to work

The ESF funds projects that are helping millions of people looking for work to find a job. In addition, ESF help puts a particular focus on those who find it more difficult to get a job than others for a variety of reasons, for example because their skills are outdated or because they have no qualifications.

Everyone faces the challenge of finding a job at sometime, usually more than once. Yet individual circumstances can make this search very different for many people. So giving people the support they need to find a job requires an appropriate approach, adapted to job-seekers’ needs.

  • Groups of skilled workers threatened by unemployment because their industry is in decline are receiving ESF-funded counselling and, if needed, retraining in new skills for the jobs that are in demand. Often these new skills are needed as industries adapt to the low-carbon economy. The ESF is also supporting mobility for work, helping with language skills and work placements for those who want to travel across Europe to find jobs.
  • For those with few or no qualifications, ESF programmes offer training and qualifications that lead to better job prospects. And the long-term unemployed – often discouraged and inactive – are motivated and given the guidance and skills they need to get back to work and enjoy financial independence.
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  • Throughout Europe, very many parents, especially women, take a career break to bring up children – yet when they try to get back to work they may find their skills outdated and childcare provision lacking. The ESF is helping them to update their skills and balance their work/life responsibilities.
  • The ESF also encourages entrepreneurship as a way into working life. Women in rural environments are supported in setting up on their own to serve local and tourist markets. Artists and creative professionals get the business training and advice they need to offer innovative services to companies. Parents with childcare responsibilities are offered the IT skills to set up online and home-based businesses.
  • ESF projects are also broadening career opportunities by overcoming traditional prejudices in career choices. For example, science and technology-based companies and organisations hold national open days for young women – to show them the attractions of a technical career. Likewise, young men are introduced to the potential of the caring professions – such as health services and nursery-school teaching.

Across Europe, ESF projects are helping millions of individuals facing a variety of challenges to get better access to jobs. The ESF is helping improve the gender balance at work; it is helping people take a long-term view of their careers and the skills they will need; it is devoting huge resources to reduce the number of long-term unemployed; and it is helping a wide variety of people facing difficulties in getting a job to overcome obstacles, get skills and find work.