For sixty years now, the European Commission has been working in partnership with the Member States to give people the opportunity to improve their job prospects. Since the European Social Fund was set up in 1957, it has helped millions of people from all walks of life.
In its early stages, the ESF was used as a means to compensate for job losses. It helped workers in sectors that were modernising or converting to new kinds of production by providing them with short term retraining allowances. It also made available resettlement help for those out of work who left their region to seek jobs elsewhere.
Over the decades, the ESF has evolved into the EU's key instrument for investing in people. It helps people retrain for new jobs or assists them in finding jobs for the first time. It also looks out for the more disadvantaged in society who may be socially excluded or at risk of being so, providing them with opportunities to find or get back into work. The ESF invests in better education opportunities and also supports the improvement of public services to the benefit of job seekers, workers and companies.
Most recently, the ESF has played a significant role in mitigating the negative effects of the crisis. Its flexible use, for instance when addressing youth unemployment, has allowed an effective response to these challenges.
Throughout 2017, the 60th anniversary of the ESF is commemorated in many regional and national events. Looking back at the Fund's achievement allows to have an informed debate on how the future of human capital funding should look like.