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European Social Fund Cohort Study

Young mechanics


We evaluated the success of government work-related training schemes funded by the European Social Fund which aimed to extend employment opportunities, tackle barriers to employment, and develop the skills of the workforce. Our evaluation looked at the impact on job prospects, progression within work and other outcomes, such as trainees’ confidence or motivation.


We found that overall the European Social Fund training schemes have had a positive impact on longer-term outcomes for those who took part:

  • some had found jobs following their training;
  • for those already in employment, there were signs of career progression;
  • among others, there was evidence of improvements in skill levels and qualifications.

While the training has met its targets in terms of outcome, the evidence pointed to some areas that could be improved in future programmes:

  • additional efforts to engage younger participants and those ‘made to’ go on the course; and
  • additional support for participants who face certain disadvantages linked with poorer outcomes, such as the disabled or the long term unemployed.


We asked a random sample of participants to take part in three waves of interviews across 18 months.

  • In the first round, over 10,000 people were interviewed during Summer 2009.
  • The second round was conducted in early 2010, and involved follow-up interviews with around 7,000 people.

In January and March 2011, the final wave took place with 2,740 respondents.

Read Wave 1 report and summary

Read Wave 2 report and summary

Read Wave 3 report and summary