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Home > News > July 2004 > 21-Jul-2004

Report: European Social Fund helps improve skills and work chances

Work and Pensions Minister Chris Pond yesterday welcomed a report showing the European Social Fund (ESF) is helping people improve their skills and their chances of finding work.

The European Social Fund Leavers' Survey 2002 report looked at the impact of training funded by the ESF Objective 3 programme on the qualifications, skills and employment status of participants.

The report found that people receiving ESF training increased their likelihood of being in work from 37 per cent on entry to the programme to 47 per cent on leaving it. This was increased by a further six percentage points, to 53 per cent, when the survey was carried out around six months later.

Pond said the findings showed that the ESF was making a difference to people's lives. "The European Social Fund is making an important contribution to our policies to promote employment opportunities for all. It has enabled more than half of the programme's participants to gain a qualification and increased their chances of finding jobs."

The research, which involved telephone interviews and postal surveys with 3,431 individuals who had completed participation between June and November 2002, also showed:

  • ESF funded training is taken up by people from a range of economic backgrounds. Of the sample 37 per cent were in work, 21 per cent were unemployed and 39 per cent were economically inactive on joining the programme
  • More than half (54 per cent) of all entrants gained a full qualification and a further 9 per cent gained credits or units towards one
  • The programme was particularly successful at improving the circumstances of those with multiple disadvantages
  • Of the 47 per cent who were not working at the time of the survey, nearly three quarters felt they had improved their skills, and more felt that they were now more confident as a result of ESF training.
  • ESF training met the expectations of 84 per cent of those who had expected to improve the skills they needed at work; 86 per cent of those who had expected to improve their self confidence about work; 69 per cent of those who expected to improve their qualifications; and 43 per cent of those who expected to receive practical help to find work.

The European Social Fund is an EU fund which supports employment and training projects in the Member States. About £2.7 billion of ESF Objective 3 funding is available in England in 2000-06. The funding supports the following priorities:

  • helping unemployed and inactive people into work
  • providing opportunities for people at a disadvantage in the labour market
  • promoting lifelong learning
  • developing the skills of employed people
  • improving women's participation in the labour market.

Further information on ESF is available on the ESF website at: www.esf.gov.uk

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