The Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, Ms. Mary Coughlan, T.D., today announced a suite of new and expanded initiatives designed to provide assistance to the unemployed.
Speaking today the Tánaiste said "The National Recovery Plan and Budget 2011 both recognise the important role that the education and skills sector have to play in Ireland's future prospects. Key to those prospects is ensuring that these sectors have the necessary measures and supports in place to assist the unemployed securing employment."
"The suite of initiatives I am announcing today is designed to help those who are unemployed gain valuable work experience, maintain close linkages with the labour market, improve their skills and education levels and ultimately will improve their employability."
The new measures that will be introduced in the coming year by the Department of Education and Skills include;
- The creation of a new €20m multi-annual higher education labour market fund to enable unemployed people access innovative part-time higher education opportunities from certificate to post graduate levels (Levels 6 to 9 on NQF). The first call for proposals under the Fund, for €5m will issue in January 2011.
- The expanded Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme, which will provide on-the-job training for up to 1,000 apprentices in the public and private sectors.
- The introduction of up to 700 places in the Institutes of Technology for redundant apprentices and craftspersons commencing in early 2011.
- The Skills Development and Internship Programme is an enterprise led initiative aimed at those who are at least three months unemployed. Participants on the programme will receive a 12 month placement with host organisations and will undertake a significant education and training component. The Government has made provision for up to 5,000 places to be supported under this programme.
- The Work Placement Programme will be expanded to provide up to an additional 5,000 places in the public service and a further 500 placements for graduates in the private sector. This will bring the number of places on the Work Placement Programme up to 7,500.
Speaking about these new initiatives the Tánaiste stated "These new initiatives represent innovative proposals aimed specifically at supporting those who are unemployed to get back into employment."
"People with all educational and skills levels have been affected by this recession. We are committed to ensuring that an appropriate mix of training and educational responses is in place to support all those who have lost their jobs back into sustainable employment. That is why I am announcing this diverse mix of work experience and upskilling provision here today. These measures will facilitate and encourage improved access to labour market activation initiatives to a wide range of individuals from recent unemployed graduates to redundant apprentices and craftspersons".
The Tánaiste continued "These are in addition to the usual FÁS, Further Education and Higher Education places, which my Department will continue to provide in 2011. This combined provision represents a comprehensive response to the upskilling and work experience needs of the unemployed in Ireland. My Department's education and training provision is one of the key building blocks of the Government's National Recovery Plan, which will return Ireland to sustainable economic growth."
Note to Editors
Further details on the five new initiatives announced by the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills are contained below:
1. €20m multi-annual higher education labour market fund
A new multi-annual Fund of €20 million is being created to enable unemployed people access innovative part-time higher education opportunities from certificate to post graduate levels (Levels 6 to 9 on NQF). The Fund aims to facilitate unemployed people in all parts of the country to up-skill and re-skill in areas of immediate and future labour market opportunity.
The Fund will operate on a competitive basis. It will be open to universities, Institutes of Technology and private and not for profit higher education providers who offer programmes that are accredited by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC).
The Fund will be allocated by means of a number of Calls for Proposals, the first of which for €5m will be published in January 2011. Additional calls will issue at intervals over the next 3 years and levels of activity may be adjusted on the basis of ongoing evaluation of programme outputs and outcomes.
The Fund will be managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. Decisions in relation to the allocation of funding will be made by an expert evaluation panel, with an independent external Chairperson, supported by the HEA. The criteria for selection of programmes under the first call will be published in January. This is expected to include evidence of alignment of programmes with regional skills needs; engagement with industry and employers; cost and value for money.
It is expected that participants will already hold at least Leaving Cert (NFQ Level 5), or equivalent in terms of work experience and will have been unemployed for a minimum period of six months. Places will be funded on part-time and flexibly delivered programmes, enabling participants to remain available to seek employment.
It is intended that the tender and assessment process under the first call will be completed within a three-month period, enabling providers to offer places on programmes from April 2011. The HEA, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Social Protection will ensure that full information in relation to income support entitlements will be published when the selected programmes are being announced.
2. Public and Private Sector Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme 2011
The Department is providing FAS with a budget of €7.3m with the objective of subsidising up to 1,000 redundant apprentices in the public and private sectors. This will help redundant apprentices to finish their training.
The method of subvention under the 2011 scheme is being changed to make the placement of a redundant apprentice more sustainable for employers. Currently FAS provides a €250 weekly wage contribution to an employer who has taken a redundant apprentice on a work placement. The employer must bring the apprentice’s wages up to agreed industry rates dependant on their phasing.
In 2011 employers will not have to supplement a redundant apprentice’s wages but instead FAS will pay a standard training rate to all apprentices irrespective of their employer being in the public or private sector at weekly training rates of €260 (Phase 3), €350 (Phase 5) and €400 (Phase 7).
The current Redundant Apprentices Placement Scheme is being expanded in 2011 to encompass work placement in the public as well as the private sector. Public sector employers such as the Health and Safety Executive, the local authorities and the Office of Public Works are to be included in order to provide the widest possible range of employers who are in a position to give redundant give apprentices on-the-job placements at Phases 3, 5 and 7 of the apprenticeship cycle. This broadening out of the current scheme has been devised to overcome the current reduction in private sector placements arising from the downturn in construction sector activity.
The current 2010 scheme has to date provided training and placement for 417 apprentices.
3. Places for Redundant Apprentices and Craftspersons in the Institutes of Technology
FAS in conjunction with the Higher Education Authority and institutes of Technology aims to provide a number of labour market activation initiatives in the educational and training areas for up to 700 redundant apprentices and craftspersons commencing in early 2011.
The measures include:
- The Institutes of Technology are developing a short duration four weeks programme to prepare redundant apprentices to repeat their outstanding assessments.
- A post Phase 6 pilot programme for a certificate in craft transferable skills is being made available to redundant apprentices and craftspersons. This fulltime 12 weeks programme will be available to all redundant apprentices who have successfully completed Phase 6 but who are unable to access employment to complete Phase 7.
- In addition, FAS in conjunction with the Dublin Institute of Technology has developed a special course in advanced skills for redundant plastering craftpersons to begin in early 2011. The programme will enable craftspersons to expand their areas into specialised areas and will interact with the Georgian society and the Irish Heritage Trust.
- FAS and the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown has developed a training programme for redundant craftspersons to obtain a certificate in entrepreneurship. The programme will enable participants to assess the feasibility of starting their own business and to develop and market test a business idea or prototype.
4. Skills Development and Internship Programme
The Skills Development and Internship Programme is a new enterprise-led labour market activation initiative aimed at those who are at least three months unemployed. Under this programme participants will be offered a 12 month placement with host organisations in the private or community and voluntary sectors. In addition to the actual placement, participants will undertake a significant education and training component, which will be certified and will aim to improve their skills and competencies.
FÁS will have responsibility for managing the programme. Participants on the programme will receive an allowance equivalent to their social welfare entitlement. In addition to this allowance, participants will also receive an 'Upskilling Bonus' of €100 per week during the actual 12 month placement phase of the programme.
By providing a 12 month placement coupled with a substantial education and training offering it is intended that the programme will provide a structured pathway to employment for those who are unemployed.
The success of the programme will be entirely dependent on enterprises embracing the programme and offering quality placements to the unemployed. The Government have made provision for up to 5,000 places to be supported under this programme; however, this is subject to the level of interest and uptake by enterprises. The Government through FÁS will facilitate these placements and provide the education and training provision to participants. Details of the programme are currently being prepared and it is expected that the programme will be operational towards the end of the first quarter of 2011.
5. Work Placement Programme
The Work Placement Programme provides up to nine months work experience to unemployed individuals, including graduates. The Programme is open to all sectors of the economy, including the private and public sectors, as well as the community and voluntary sectors. The aim of the programme is to keep participants close to the labour market and to provide them with valuable work experience, which will assist them securing employment in the future.
In Budget 2011, the Government decided to expand the number of placements offered under the Work Placement Programme, from the current 2,000 to 7,500 places. This is comprised of an additional 5,000 places in the public service and a further 500 placements for graduates in the private sector.