the new European Social Fund's emphasis on people who need extra help
to get and keep a job.
Addressing a conference of delegates from all parts of the
'The European Social Fund has helped many people in this country.
I am particularly pleased that, from next year, the Social Fund will
focus on equal opportunities for all our people.
'In Britain we are proud of our record of using ESF to help those
at risk of social exclusion. As a result, people have been able to
overcome particular barriers to employment. Nineteen percent of those
leaving ESF projects in 1997 were from an ethnic minority, 37% never
had a job, 14% were lone perents and 11% had English as a second
language. The new European Social Fund will enable us to focus
resources even more closely on those who need them most.
'We look forward to the challenge of using the new European Social
Fund with other sources of funding to achieve the government's key
employment goals. We can help people to take control of and transform
their lives. That is why, right across government, we are tackling
poor education, poor job prospects, poor housing, poor health and
Mr Smith highlighted that a major focus of government policy is
to equip people with the skills they need to make effective choices
in an increasingly complex world. He said:
'We are starting at the beginning, ensuring that young people get
the right start in life. We have Introduced a range of remedial
measures which help people make the right decisions for themselves.
Our programmes can equip people with the skills and support they need
to enter further education, training and a job and to succeed at work
and in life more generally.
'The longer a person is dependant on benefits the more difficult
the move to independence can be. The 'New Deal' provides a range of
programmes, bringing new hope and transforming the lives of welfare
recipients. With European Social Fund support we are providing
additional help for more people.
'Partnership is essential to success. Britain is committed to
working with its European partners. We are both keen to learn from
the good practice in other member states and pleased to share our own
1 The European Social Fund (ESF) is one of four EU Structural Funds
designed to strengthen economic and social cohesion. It was
established by the Treaty of Rome to help member states to improve
employment opportunities for workers, to make employment easier, to
increase geographical and occupational mobility and to facilitate
adaptation to industrial change, in particular through vocational
training and retraining.
2 EMPLOYMENT is one of two ESF Human Resource Community Initiatives.
The EMPLOYMENT initiative focuses on re-integrating specific groups
of disadvantaged people into the labour market. The INTEGRA strand
targets a range of vulnerable groups. All projects are innovative
pilot projects working with partner projects in other Member States.
The conference in Birmingham on 7-6 June wIl draw together and
disseminate lessons from INTEGRA projects between member states.
3 At the European Council of 24-25 March the new Regulations for the
European Structural Funds for the period 2000 to 2006 were finalised.
There will be five priority areas for intervention by the European
- developing active labour market policies;
- promoting social inclusion and equal opportunities;
- developing education and training systems as part of a lifelong
- improving systems to create a skilled, trained and adaptable
- improving the position of women in the labour market and reducing
labour market segregation by gender.
4 The government is currently consulting on plans for the European
Social Fund in Great Britain. The deadline for responses is 23 June