In terms of the details of the specific approach adopted to implementing the proposal, SOLAS are publishing the range of financial supports available on their dedicated webpage for the Debenhams Fund at www.solas.ie/programmes/debenhams-training-fund/. These include the following:-
- A career transition grant of up to €1,000 for additional occupational guidance and career planning supports from private guidance specialists as required;
- Training grants towards privately provided programmes accredited by industry bodies or by Quality and Qualifications Ireland where similar programmes are not readily or speedily available through the public system, up to a general limit of €5,000 for higher education programmes and €3,000 for further education training programmes;
- Course Expense Contributions towards the costs of travel, materials and equipment, up to a €3,000 limit;
- A weekly contribution of €100 towards childcare costs to facilitate attendance at upskilling programmes; and
- Recoupment of costs already incurred to support individual upskilling since being made redundant up to €1,500.
These supports were approved by SOLAS and advised to my Department in August 2021 in the context of finalising the design of the Fund in light of its objectives set out in the outcome of the engagement by the Chairman of the Labour Court in this matter.
As set out in my earlier response, the level of demand for support from, and the operation of, the Fund will be monitored by the Advisory Committee established to support the implementation of the Fund which includes representatives of the former workers.