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Higher Education Grants.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 8 October 2009

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Ceisteanna (82)

George Lee

Ceist:

79 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the training options available for unemployed people with third level qualifications; the reason third level courses are ineligible to be funded under the technical employment support grant; her plans to make third level courses eligible to be funded under the technical employment support grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35104/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Enterprise)

FÁS has increased the range of training options available to unemployed persons including those with a 3rd level qualification to assist their re-entry into the labour market. Courses, such as Specific Skills Training and Traineeships which lead to major awards on the National Framework of Qualifications continue to be offered. FÁS also offers a number of Short Courses (typically 2 modules) as well as Evening Courses, On-Line Courses and Blended Learning Courses which usually lead to component certification and/or industry recognised certification.

Significant numbers of unemployed persons, including those with a 3rd level qualification, continue to participate on the above training options. For example in 2008, 27% of participants on SST courses had a 3rd level qualification as had 23% of those on Traineeships. The choice of course follows a guidance interview and agreement of a Career Action Plan where the applicant in conjunction with the FÁS Employment Services Officer (ESO) deems the course appropriate to their career and employment aspirations.

Some new courses are proving popular with those with a 3rd level qualification. These include Management Development programmes at Level 6, 7 and 8, Three- Dimensional CAD for redundant architects, Start your Own Business for a variety of redundant professionals, ‘Green' technology courses for those who worked in the construction industry, as well as an Entrepreneurial Skills Programme for redundant workers in Financial Services.

FÁS is also in the process of rolling out a very successful programme called ‘Executive/Professional Networking and Support Programme into all FÁS regions to provide support, information and networking to redundant executives, professionals and senior technicians. Typical participants include CEOs, MDs, Architects, Solicitors, HR Managers, IT Project Managers, Senior Technicians and Financial Services Consultants. Most have a 3rd level qualification. The programme will support participants to identify new strategies and develop new skills to meet the changing demands of the labour market, to re-engage quickly with the market place in either a full or part-time capacity, or make a change in career direction or commence a business start up.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA) administers a Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) scheme for unemployed people, lone parents and people with disabilities who are getting certain payment from DSFA. The allowance can be paid to people who wish to do or take second or third level courses of education. From the 1st May 2009, to qualify for the third level option, the length of time a person must be getting a qualifying social welfare payment was reduced from 12 months to 9 months in line with the National Employment Action Plan when recommended by a Facilitator from DSFA. The Department of Education and Science (co-funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment) has put in place a programme for the provision of third level places for Jobseekers. 1,000 part-time postgraduate third-level places and a further 1,500 part-time undergraduate college places are available for jobseekers. Successful applicants to the scheme will be entitled to continue to receive a DSFA payment and there will be no tuition fees for these programmes

The Technical Employment Support Grant (TESG) is used where a FÁS Employment Services Officer meets a jobseeker and during the course of a guidance interview, identifies that the jobseeker has a support need to enter/re-enter the labour market, and that this need cannot be met by FÁS directly or any other state provider, within a reasonable timeframe or at a location convenient to the jobseeker.

The following client groups are eligible at present for support under Technical Employment Support Grant (TESG): Jobseekers that are considered to be distant from the labour market e.g. homeless people, ex-prisoners, members of the Traveller community and people made redundant with low skills; Ex-Job Initiative participants or current participants who wish to explore alternative training/employment options; Employment Action Plan (EAP) jobseekers; and People with a Disability.

The Technical Employment Support Grant has a limited budget which is focused on short term interventions. It is not the intention of this fund to support full time or part time third level programmes. However FÁS is currently reviewing the feasibility of supporting short term upskilling programmes which may be provided by third level institutions.

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