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European Year of Skills

How the European Social Fund (ESF+) helped Álvaro achieve his dream: a successful reskilling story

At the age of 25, Álvaro decided to pursue his dream of becoming a hairdresser. He enrolled in a vocational training course co-funded by the ESF+ and ended up being Cristiano Ronaldo’s personal hairdresser.  

Antonio Ferreira

After finishing his ninth year of studies, Álvaro Ferreira began working in clothing stores, restaurants and doing whatever needed to be done in Porto, his hometown. Already during a family dinner, Álvaro made a life-changing decision: he wanted to be a hairdresser.  

To pursue his dream, he enrolled in course and completed secondary education. He looked for existing adult training opportunities and discovered an Adult Education and Training course at the Porto Centre for Employment and Vocational Training.  

Álvaro learned everything there is to know hair and business. "I took the course, and I had excellent teachers. The classes were almost always practical, where we all learned to do, experiment and work. It was the best thing I did, to study again, and the support of EU Funds also helped,” he explained.  

He finished the course and worked in two barbershops in Porto, but he had a strong desire to start his own business. He spoke with a friend, joined forces, and opened Barbearia 77. “The whole barbearia scenario is inspired by the 30s, 40s and 50s.” Music is a constant: Elvis, Amália, Carlos do Carmo, and the music of António Variações are widely heard. 

Having fulfilled his dream, Álvaro sends a strong message to all listeners: “I would like to tell you to aim high.” He invites all those that are looking to up- and reskill to make the most of the opportunities provided by the European Social Fund+: ”you will get the support you never thought you would get,” he explains. 

Álvaro shared his inspiring story about becoming Cristian Ronaldo's personal hairdresser at the European Year of Skills Festival on May 9, 2023. Read more about the event here


The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) is the European Union (EU)’s main instrument for investing in people. With a budget of almost € 99.3 billion for the period 2021-2027, the ESF+ will continue to provide an important contribution to the EU’s employment, social, education and skills policies, including structural reforms in these areas.