Written Answers. - FÁS Training Programmes.

Nora Owen

Question:

167 Mrs. Owen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has approved the proposal by FÁS to curtail the overseas graduate placement programme; her views on this decision; if she will urge FÁS to reinstate this programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1644/99]

I am aware of the plans of FÁS in relation to the overseas graduate placement programme. The position is that the placements under the programme are being temporarily suspended in light of the skills shortages which are present in the economy. I believe that this strategy is the correct one in the current circumstances. However, I would draw the Deputy's attention to the fact that FÁS is continuing to interact with those graduates currently abroad on placements. In addition, it has put measures in place to attract former participants of the programme who have remained overseas back to Ireland as part of an overall strategy to address skills shortages. It is intended to review the programme in the middle of this year with a view to recommencing placements as soon as possible.