Funding priorities (2014-2020)

As required by the relevant regulations, the ESF measures of the member states must be consistent with the Europe 2020 strategy, the national goals of this strategy (National Reform Programme) and the country-specific recommendations of the Council pursuant to Article 148 TFEU. ESF funding must be thematically concentrated, wherein at least 20% of all ESF funds available in every member state must be allocated to the thematic objective "Promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination" as defined in Article 9, paragraph 1, number 9 of Regulation (EU) No. 1303/2013.

In this funding period, the focus of the ESF was on securing the skilled labour base, promoting social inclusion and fighting poverty. Other priorities were the promotion of self-employment, the reconciliation of work and private commitments, improving the level of educational attainment and life-long learning.

The thematic objectives and associated investment priorities:

Objective A: Promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility

  1. Self-employment, entrepreneurship and business creation including innovative micro, small and medium sized enterprises.
  2. Equality between men and women in all areas, including in access to employment, career progression, reconciliation of work and private life and promotion of equal pay for equal work.
  3. Adaptation of workers, enterprises and entrepreneurs to change.

Objective B: Promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination

  1. Active inclusion, including with a view to promoting equal opportunities and active participation, and improving employability.

Objective C: Investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and life-long learning

  1. Enhancing equal access to life-long learning for all age groups in formal, non-formal and informal settings, upgrading the knowledge, skills and competences of the workforce, and promoting flexible learning pathways including through career guidance and validation of acquired competences.
  2. Improving the labour market relevance of education and training systems, facilitating the transition from education to work, and strengthening vocational education and training systems and their quality, including through mechanisms for skills anticipation, adaptation of curricula and the establishment and development of work-based learning systems, including dual learning systems and apprenticeship schemes.

The primary target groups were:

  • Disadvantaged young people, particularly those without a school-leaving certificate or vocational qualification
  • Long-term unemployed
  • Women and individuals in gainful employment, particularly low-skilled or low-income workers
  • People from a migrant background, especially those facing difficult personal situations (e.g. refugees)

Specific support measures were provided for women and migrants. Strong commitment was also provided in the area of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises by supporting business starters and entrepreneurs with regard to competitiveness, securing and developing the business, sustainability, and a secure skilled labour base.

Furthermore, municipalities facing a high percentage of recent migrants from the EU in greater need of integration received particular support through ESF activities as part of "Education, Economy, Work in the neighbourhood - BIWAQ", the "Encouraging Youth in the Neighbourhood - JUSTiQ" local youth empowerment programme, and the "Federal ESF Integration Directive".