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The European Social Fund

For more than 60 years now, the European Social Fund (ESF) has been investing in better opportunities in the labour market and is the most important financial instrument of the European Union for investing in people.

The ESF programme for employment in Austria 2014 - 2020

The European Social Fund subsidises measures to avoid and combat unemployment and to extend the range of training programmes.

In the structural fund period 2014 - 2020, the ESF has made an important contribution: around €876m has been invested in the Employment Austria 2014 - 2020 programme.

This programme has the following main focuses:

The equality of women and men in the labour market

The ESF Austria uses innovative approaches in order to promote the careers of women, the compatibility of work and private lives as well as the principle of equal pay for the same work. ESF-financed projects address women who wish to obtain higher qualifications, and also companies. In the latter, intensive consulting creates new structures and organisational changes which facilitate the equality of women and men.

Active and healthy ageing

Demographic changes are leading to challenges for the labour market and companies. The ESF supports offers to increase the employment rate of older workers in Austria. In addition, companies are supported in the design of working environments which take age and ageing into account in order to adapt jobs and workplaces to the life cycles of workers.

Active inclusion and the improvement of employability

Combating poverty is an important objective of the ESF in Austria. People who are on the margins of the labour market and who ability to work and employability are low are at particular risk of poverty. The ESF therefore finances projects which contribute towards equal opportunities and active participation in the labour market. These projects include advice, support, skills training and employment projects. The recipients of support are young people who are neither in employment nor in training (so-called NEETS) as was as persons who are at risk of poverty in spite of being in work, as well as Roma and people with immigrant backgrounds.  

Avoiding premature school leaving, promoting education

Young people who are at risk of leaving school early or breaking off training are one of the primary targets of the ESF in Austria. For this reason, investments are made in measures which facilitate the transition from school to working life. for example, transitional stages and special learning programmes are created which support pupils. Youth coaching at schools is another offer which helps young people to plan a successful transition into their future working lives. In addition to this, production schools offer young adults the opportunity to try out their abilities and to obtain orientation as to which career path they would like to follow.     

Equal access to lifelong learning, improving the skills and qualifications of workers

Lifelong learning programmes enable people to obtain an educational qualification which they missed out on earlier, and to enhance their level of skills. Persons who are disadvantaged in terms of education in particular can be reached with innovative and low-threshold approaches, and receive support in obtaining additional abilities and competences. In addition, ESF funding also increases the professionality of advice programmes in the field of adult education.

Burgenland – local employment initiatives and access to employment for jobseekers

Burgenland is the only province in Austria which has the status of a transition region and can set regional priorities. For this reason, there are two additional focuses in Burgenland. On the one hand, access to employment and the mobility of the workforce is promoted, for example via the upgrading of skills in the fields of ICT, expertise in relation to the environment, or technological occupations. On the other hand, measures support the adaptation of the workforce and companies to the shift in the direction of a technological, knowledge-based economy.

last update: 8 November 2019