Top Officials from the European Commission visit Limerick to review the impact of funding from the European Globalisation Fund (EGF)

FÁS this week (Wednesday 21st July 2010) welcomed a visit to the EGF Co-ordination Office in Limerick by senior personnel from the Employment Commission. The purpose of the visit was to review progress made to date in the measures being funded to assist redundant workers who were formerly employed in the DELL computer manufacturing plant at Raheen, Co. Limerick and in ancillary enterprises in the Mid-West region. Key objectives of the funding support provided is to assist these  workers to retrain, upskill or  establish their own businesses and so to improve their vocational prospects.

The visitors from the European Commission met with representatives of FÁS, the County and City Enterprise Boards, the local Vocational Education Committees and Third Level Institutions, including Limerick Institute of Technology and the University of Limerick.  They also met with workers who are currently actively participating on the programme to hear of their experiences.

The EC delegation met with three beneficiaries of supports to assist in setting up their own businesses and others currently in training being provided by FÁS, the VECs and private training institutions.

At the outset all potential beneficiaries were interviewed by FÁS Employment Services Officers and were invited to attend a two day fair in Limerick in February to explore the options available to them. Of particular interest to the EC delegation was the recently established FÁS internship programme which will see participants getting the opportunity to train and work with local employers.

Key features of progress made with the support of the European Globalisation Fund to date include the following:

· 595 people are currently taking part in FÁS programmes including training, employment schemes and internships

· 316 are utilising the FÁS EGF Training Grant to  undertake courses that  are outside the FÁS ambit , for an example in  private training providers

· 87 individuals have had applications approved by the County & City Enterprise Boards for new business start ups with funding  of the order of €1.6 million committed to them

· 122 taking part in 3rd Level activities in colleges such as University of Limerick & Limerick Institute of Technology

· The Mid West VECs are engaging with a further 420 beneficiaries across a range of training programmes and vocational guidance.

Mr. Peter Stub Jorgensen, EC Director with responsibility for the European Globalisation Fund was pleased with the progress to date – ‘We are pleased with the level of activity that has been achieved with the EGF funding to date. Spending all of the funding is not a barometer of the success of the programme. It is important that this money is spent in a worthwhile fashion and that the activities are appropriate to the needs of individual beneficiaries. The FÁS Internship programme is a good example of the innovative ways in which this funding can be used to keep people close to the employers and the labour market.’

Speaking following the meeting David Smith, Manager, EGF Co-ordination Unit said

‘We want to ensure that people have their say and are being given the correct choices of training, upskilling and entrepreneurial support and educational offers. The EGF Coordination Unit is liaising with all the service providers to ensure that workers’ skills and needs are assessed and matched to appropriate interventions. It is vitally important that qualifying individuals take advantage of this unique opportunity within the given timeframe. Our co-ordination unit based here in the Granary Building, Limerick can provide potential beneficiaries with all the information and guidance they need.’ he added.

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