JOBS, JOBS, JOBS has been the chant of the political candidates but for the staff of the Kilkenny Jobfit centre it doesn’t ring true. Despite achieving huge successes in getting the long-term unemployed back into the labour force, the staff of Jobfit are now facing unemployment themselves.
Although Jobfit has only been in operation since September it can back up claims that it is going about tackling the issue unemployment in the right way. Out of the 120 people in it’s most recent 13 week course Jobfit have successfully secured employment for 25 people while 75 others have gone on to Fetac courses and 15 others in further education.
According to Labour leader Eamon Gilmore each person in the dole queue costs the state €20,000. This means that in its six months in operation, Kilkenny Jobfit alone has saved the state half a million euro.
Despite this a spokesperson for the Department of Education and Skills has confirmed to the Kilkenny People that no additional funding will be provided to the Jobfit programme. The spokesperson said “No additional funding was made available in Budget 2011 for a further expansion of the 2010 Activation Fund. However, the impacts of the funded projects will be fully assessed and results made available to Government later this year, with a view to informing the consideration of any future iterations of this funding model.”
Funding for the government initiative is due to run out on the 1st of March, despite the fact that over €200m in funding for job creation was announced in the budget. The National Employment Action Plan is aiming to create 15,000 “activation places” but there has been no detail on who will administer and run his scheme are even what it will involve. As it stands the Jobfit team will be unemployed on the 1st of March.
The seven staff of the Kilkenny Jobfit centre have been very successful in getting the long term unemployed back into the labour force. The centre based in St Canice’s Court, Dean Street employs seven full time staff. The staff provide training in interview skills and CV preparation as well as support to people who have left the education system early and have been unemployed and receiving job seekers allowance for at least six months.
Patricia Drennan the Kilkenny jobfit Job broker said that the program had already proven that it could change peoples lives. She said:
“We’ve only been in operation since the end of September and would like to continue as we’ve proven that we’re able to turn people’s lives around.”
At an awards ceremony for the those who had successfully completed the Jobfit program, the Kilkenny centre Manager Des Henry urged the participants to get out and vote.
“We don’t know if we’ll be there on the first of April, so go and vote and tell the politicians what we do here. Kilkenny is not left wanting in terms of services from the state but nobody really taking on the hurdle of on unemployment. Kilkenny Leader Project need support and funding. There’s no one solution so we need the services to work together.”