Exploring open data on
ESF participants


The European Social Fund (ESF) and the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) are extremely active in their support of labour market, education, training and social inclusion measures. The actions have touched the lives of Europeans across the region, with 36 million participants registering by the end of 2019 – over half being women. Over 4.5 million people have found a job thanks to ESF and YEI support.
The charts below highlight some of the ESF's main achievements, main target groups and successful outcomes.

1. Who does the ESF reach out to? 

ESF activity in labour market and social integration is measured by examining labour market status, age and educational attainment. The three charts below show the total number of ESF/YEI participants, broken down by each of these benchmarks. The data shows a significant majority of support went to people in greatest need, such as unemployed or inactive persons, and individuals with low educational attainment.
Tip: Use the master filter below to filter all of the following charts simultaneously 1) by ESF or YEI funding, 2) by country or 3) the thematic objective (labour market, inclusion or education and training).   
... by employment status
... by education status
... by age
... by vulnerable groups
In addition to the measurements of labour market status and skills level, further characteristics are also there to judge the ESF support's relevance. (e.g. how many participants with disabilities, or individuals with migrant, foreign or minority backgrounds were supported). The evolution of their total number is provided below.

2. How many people achieved successful outcomes?

The success of ESF projects is dependent upon the specific needs of the participant, as well as the type of programme in which they participated. Typically, however, participants saw positive outcomes that could be broken down across the following four categories:
  • participants starting job-search who were not in the labour market before support,
  • continued education or training by participants who did not take part in education or training before,
  • participants gaining a qualification and
  • job placement of previously jobless participants.
Example: Training during the pandemic, Belgium
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in particular difficulty for individuals seeking to learn a new skill or further develop their expertise. Belgium’s Creative Industries Knowledge Centre, Technocité has met this challenge by building virtual classes for participants to continue training.€3.3 million in ESF funding has allowed teachers and students to pursue their courses at the Technocité skills centre in Mons, Wallonia. Numerous training courses are offered, focusing on topics such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the Internet of things, and sound design.

ESF funding has also created the opportunity for the ‘Stuyfplek’  network to enable disadvantaged people and persons with disabilities to build their confidence, enter the labour market and find employment. The project financed by €377 000 of EU funding, has proven itself extremely adaptable, finding  new ways to engage with participants – offering a wide range of  online, COVID-friendly training sessions.

Example: Development of green jobs in Spain
Co-financed by the ESF, the ‘Empleaverde’ programme is creating green jobs, promoting entrepreneurship and helping to build a fairer, greener and more resilient economy in Spain. The programme’s €47 million budget supports a wide array of activities including the improvement of transversal skills; active job-search strategies; the creation of networks and professional contact; and the development of emotional intelligence. Through partnerships with over 500 organisations, the programme has co-financed 339 projects, supported 1.3 million recipients and helped create 2 600 businesses.  Find out more in an article highlighting one of the supported projects.
While employment is important, finding a job that is sustainable is essential. ESF programmes have shown real success in this regard. By 2019, nearly 4.2 million people were still in their roles after six months. This number is higher than the number of people who found a job right after participating in an ESF project (3.6 million). This means that ESF support is even more effective in the longer run, with participants continuing to reap its benefits six months after completing the project.

4. More Information