Research and analysis

ESF 2007 to 2013: evaluation of the first half of the programme

An assessment of the effectiveness of the first half of the 2007 to 2013 ESF programme based on existing evaluations and other evidence.


European Social Fund Operational Programme 2007-2013: synthesis of evidence from the first half of the programme

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By Paul Ainsworth, Ellenor Brooks, Elizabeth Cole, Simon Marlow and Andrew Thomas

The European Social Fund (ESF) was set up to improve employment opportunities in the European Union and so help raise standards of living. Its aim is to help people fulfil their potential by giving them better skills and better job prospects. Employment support provided through the European Social Fund is varied and flexible. It includes activities such as job search guidance, basic skills training, case worker support and advice on tackling specific barriers to work.

This report draws together evidence from the 2007 to 2013 evaluation studies of the European Social Fund (ESF) and internal analysis and management information in England and Gibraltar to assess the impact of the ESF programme and its effectiveness in meeting its objectives for the first half of the programme.

The report seeks to determine the extent to which ESF has delivered added value, targeted its support on disadvantaged groups and contributed towards reducing regional employment and skills differences.

Published 5 October 2011