Northern Ireland European Social Fund programme 2014-2020

The strategic aim of the European Social Fund (ESF) Programme 2014-2020 in Northern Ireland is to combat poverty and enhance social inclusion by reducing economic inactivity and to increase the skills base of those currently in work and future potential participants in the workforce.

European Social Fund Northern Ireland logo
European Social Fund Northern Ireland logo

Second call for applications under priority 1 and 2

The second call for grant funding under the NI ESF Programme 2014-2020 opened to applications at 10:00 am on 11 September 2017 and closed at noon on 13 October 2017. Funding available, subject to exchange rates, is estimated to be £165m. The budget estimated is subject to future budget settlements and approvals. In total, 92 applications for grant funding totaling £205m were received in response to the second call.

Following the conclusion of application assessment process and subsequent appeals process, 69 project applications were recommended for funding subject to a number of pre-Letter of Offer due diligence checks.

Successful ESF Call 2 projects will commence delivery of services in April 2018.

Background to Second Call

2014-2020 NI ESF Programme Funding – Next Steps.

What will the programme fund?

The programme will fund activity to enhance and extend employment opportunities, in particular, for those groups at a disadvantage in the labour market who are unemployed, including long term unemployed, or economically inactive.

There will also be a focus on supporting young people aged 16-24 who are not unemployment education or training and on people with a disability.

In addition, through the Apprenticeships and Youth Training Programme, we aim to increase the number of people in employment skilled at level 2 and 3-8 in line with employers’ needs and the needs of the economy.

The NIESF Programme compliments significant funding already provided through existing departmental strategies, policies and programmes

Programme priorities

The aim of the ESF programme will be realised through the implementation of four objectives:

  • Priority 1: Access to Employment - promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility
  • Priority 2: Social Inclusion - promoting social inclusion and combating poverty and any discrimination
  • Priority 3: Skills for Growth - investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and life-long learning
  • Priority 4: Technical Assistance - the Technical Assistance (TA) allocation for the Northern Ireland European Social Fund programme 2014 – 2020 is €7.7m.

Further information about the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020 can be found at the link below:

Projects awarded funding under the 1st Call for applications

65 projects with a total value of £105 million are currently operational under the 1st call of funding. The period of funding offered runs from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2018.

These projects will help support 42,700 individuals fulfil their potential by equipping them better skills and improved job prospects to enable them to take steps towards employment. The Programme will also provide assistance to 2,340 families under the community Family Support Programme.

Priority 3

Priority 3 – Skills for Growth - investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and life-long learning. See attached link for list of funded projects. 

Priority 4

Technical Assistance

The Technical Assistance (TA) allocation for the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020 is €7.7m.

The TA Budget has been determined on the basis of experience gained by DfE (formerly DEL) in managing and implementing the 2007 – 2013 ESF programme and also an analysis of the support required to efficiently and effectively implement the 2014 – 2020 programme. The TA budget has been allocated to the relevant bodies to cover costs associated with Programme administration ie staffing, audit and verification, communications, mandatory training costs and to the development and maintenance of the Programme website.

Eligibility rules and conditions for the NI European Social Fund

Call 1

The eligibility rules and conditions for the NI European Social Fund 2014-2020 Call 1 are set out in the Operating Manual and associated information memos which can be accessed below.

Call 2

Organisations submitting applications under NI European Social Fund 2014-2020 Call 2 should note the ESF Promoter’s Operating Manual will be revised in advance of Call 2 projects becoming operational and should not be relied upon to inform their application. Please refer to the Call 2 Application Guidance Notes and Common Questions document in the links below when completing application(s). 

Commission publicity requirements

All projects awarded funding from the NI European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 are required to acknowledge the funding received in communication and publicity materials. The requirements are outlined in the document below.

ESF Publicity Material 

ESF Branch have helped to publicise and promote the ESF scheme by producing these information posters and leaflets. 

ESF Evaluation Plan 

Annual Implementation Report 

Joint Qualifications in Vocational Education and Training (VET)

A new call on Joint Qualifications on Vocational Education and Training is now open for applications. More details at:

Contact details

Useful links

 

 

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