The European Commission has now announced its approval of the application made by the Department of Education and Skills for EU co-funding for a programme of guidance, training, education and enterprise supports for over 300 persons in West Limerick under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF).
The main group to be assisted comprises the workforce made redundant in Quarter 4 of 2013 from the Andersen Ireland Limited jewellery manufacturing plant in Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, of whom almost 70% are female. The remaining group is made up of young persons under the age of 25 years in the same region, which has suffered considerable social and economic disadvantage, and who are not currently in education, training or employment; this measure is in synergy with the Youth Employment Initiative aimed at reducing the number of young people at risk of long term unemployment in the Union.
The programme must still be approved by the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament later this year. The programme, if approved, will run until 16 May 2016 and will include a wide ranging programme of occupational and career guidance, public and privately sourced training including EGF training grants, second and third level education courses, a contribution scheme to assist with the cost of participation in training and education and enterprise supports for those seeking to set up their own business. Initial estimates by the Department of Education and Skills put the total cost of the programme at €2.5m should all funding be drawn down ultimately.
According to Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, “EU Commission approval is a very positive development and I hope the entire package can pass all approval stages before the end of the year. The funding will directly support Andersen workers, the majority of who were women, and open up new opportunities for them in growing sectors of the economy. I am also very pleased to see approval being given to assist young unemployed people through this package – that is a new and very welcome element of EGF programmes.”
The Minister for Training and Skills, Damien English, T.D. welcomed the Commission announcement saying “Yet again the Commission has recognised the quality of an Irish application under the EGF. The Fund continues to be a valuable instrument for Ireland to assist vulnerable workers made redundant by the adverse impacts of globalisation. Measures are already being delivered to the relevant workers and the young unemployed workers in the Rathkeale and West Limerick area through local and national service providers. This is being done through exclusively national funding currently but in anticipation of subsequent 60% EU co-funding. Ireland is a consistent drawer on the Fund in order to widen the opportunities for beneficiaries to upskill and improve their chances of quickly re-entering the labour market”.
The Department of Education and Skills recently submitted another application for EU co-funding under the EGF on 19 September for a programme of guidance, training, education and enterprise supports for up to 427 persons at the former aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility of Lufthansa Technik Airmotive Ireland (LTAI) in Rathcoole, Co. Dublin and additionally for up to 200 unemployed young persons under the age of 25 years who are not currently in education, training or employment in the region.
Minister English said “We have seen the benefits of the EGF in opening up for redundant workers another route back into re-employment. Some 9,700 persons have been assisted since 2009 through the EGF in Ireland and the new 2014 programmes will, it is anticipated, push that number well beyond 10,000. The Government will continue to avail of all possible sources of support to ensure our workforce has the optimum means of labour market reintegration. The potential inclusion of a specific category of young unemployed persons is another welcome development under EGF and one which we are utilising, and will continue to utilise, as far as possible within existing national budgetary constraints”.
Note for Editors
The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is an EU co-funding instrument which
assists workers made redundant through the adverse impacts of globalization, or the global
financial and economic crisis by providing co-funding for approved active labour market
programmes of guidance, training, education and enterprise supports.
The fund draws on savings in the annual EU budget with up to €150m available annually across all Member States on a “first come, first served” basis between 2014 – 2020 and with a current co-funding rate of 60% from the EU and 40% nationally.
Since 2009 Ireland has made 7 successful EGF applications. EU co-funding has contributed
some €38m of total EGF expenditure to date of almost €60m.
Over 9,700 persons have been assisted and almost 22,500 individual interventions have
been delivered on completed EGF programmes to date.
A new EGF Regulation came into effect in 2014 which reinstated the “economic and financial
crisis” criterion, increased EU co-funding back up to 60% and permits self-employed persons
and a new category of young persons under 25 – 30 years old who are not in employment,
education or training, to be included in EGF programmes.
Approved EGF programmes are of a finite 24 months duration commencing from the submission of an application. EGF applications must normally encompass collective redundancies of at least 500 workers but there is a limited exceptional circumstances provision where numbers can be lower dependent, inter alia, on serious impacts on employment and the local, regional or national economy and where the globalisation rationale is proven to the EU’s satisfaction.