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The ESF in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is using ESF funding to reduce inactivity among young people and the long-term unemployed and to improve training and skills. It is also investing in education and lifelong learning, and is promoting social inclusion by fighting poverty and discrimination.

Across Europe and in the UK the ESF is supporting jobs, helping people get better jobs and ensuring fairer living standards and job opportunities for all EU citizens. It is doing this by investing in Europe’s human capital – its workers, its young people, disadvantaged groups and all those seeking a job. Tens of thousands of ESF projects are active in Europe’s cities, towns, rural communities and neighbourhoods. They are opening doors to skills, to work, to qualifications and to a more inclusive society for all Europeans.

During 2014-2020, the ESF and European Regional Development Fund are investing around €11.8 billion across the UK. The ESF share of €4.9 billion is funding six operational programmes in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Gibraltar, and includes €206 million for the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI).

Bridging the job gap

The ESF is funding projects to increase employment levels, in particular among young people and those facing obstacles to getting a job. Initiatives addressing the long-term unemployed, the economically inactive and those at risk of poverty and social exclusion include tackling barriers to entering and staying in work by providing skills training. Actions to get women into work include reskilling, retraining and initiatives to reduce the gender employment gap.

Working on inclusion

In line with the UK’s commitment to tackling poverty and welfare dependency through work, the ESF is focusing on disadvantaged groups, including disabled people, ethnic minorities, ex-offenders and women needing childcare provision. Projects are providing pre-employment training and help for disadvantaged groups, which is tailored to local needs. Skills training and support in the transition from unemployment into work are also benefitting those at risk of social exclusion. For example, in London’s Brixton Prison, the ESF-funded Bad Boys’ Bakery project is training inmates to become bakers and to find work when they are released.

Keeping up with change

To boost productivity, increase competitiveness and meet labour market needs, the ESF is promoting upskilling and reskilling to help those already in work. Young people, in particular, are gaining the intermediate and higher-level skills, qualifications, training and career advice they need to enter and stay in the labour market. Priorities also include training for the unemployed and disadvantaged groups, improving links between education and work, more support for apprenticeships and traineeships, and equipping students, graduates and young people with the skills to start and grow a business.