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The European Structural and Investment Funds

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs) is a structural fund from the European Union. It improves the skills of the workforce and helps people who have difficulties finding work.

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs)

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs) are the European Union's main way of investing in 'smart, sustainable and inclusive' growth in its member states.

Scottish Government are the Managing Authority for two ESIFs in Scotland:

  • the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion by correcting imbalances between regions
  • the European Social Fund (ESF) aims to help people improve their lives by learning new skills and finding better jobs

Scottish Government distribute these funds to lead partners, such as policy directorates, agencies and local authorities, who distribute the funding between individual projects and organisations. For more information on European Structural Funds, visit the Scottish Government’s website.

How do European Structural Funds support employability?

There are three Strategic Interventions (SIs), supported by the European Social Fund, that aim to improve employment opportunities in Scotland:

  • Employability
  • Youth Employment Initiative
  • Developing Scotland's Workforce


The Employability SI aims to:

  • provide routes to sustainable employment for unemployed people with multiple barriers to work, such as illness
  • increase the skill levels of and labour market opportunities for unemployed people with multiple barriers to work

The lead partners for this SI are:

  • Skills Development Scotland (SDS)
  • the following local authorities: Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, City of Edinburgh, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian

Youth Employment Initiative

The Youth Employment Initiative SI aims to:

  • help young people 16-29, particularly those not in employment, education or training, into work
  • reduce the number of unemployed and socially excluded young people in south west Scotland

The lead partners for this SI are:

  • the Scottish Funding Council
  • the following local authorities: Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire

Developing Scotland's Workforce

The Developing Scotland's Workforce SI aims to:

  • create new learning places for skills development
  • provide training courses for careers in Scotland's growth sectors
  • develop a curriculum to address skills gaps and offer new ways of learning
  • expand Scotland's Modern Apprenticeship programme in sectors including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
  • create a work-based learning approach through Foundation Apprenticeships, which begin in schools
  • support Advanced Apprenticeships, which offer post-school academic and work-based education
  • promote vocational skills at International Standard Classification of Education level 3 and above in support of Scotland's growth sectors

The lead partners for this SI are:

Find out more

Find out more about the European Structural and Investment Funds

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