‘Preparing for recovery’ by up-skilling the work force

A ROAD map for businesses in the South East to expand and develop by taking on unemployed people and accessing other supports will be held in Kilkenny on October 12.

A ROAD map for businesses in the South East to expand and develop by taking on unemployed people and accessing other supports will be held in Kilkenny on October 12.

Taking place from 8am to 12.30pm in the Pembroke Hotel, the free ‘Preparing for Recovery’ forum will focus on how businesses can sustain and create employment by tapping into the wealth of experience that exists amongst people who are currently unemployed.

‘Preparing for Recovery’ is an initiative from the Kilkenny Leader Partnership’s employability strategy and supported by State Street Corporation. State Street Corporation’s grant-making arm, State Street Foundation, works with charitable partners around the world that build sustainable futures for local communities, focusing on education with an emphasis on workforce development. This forum is aimed at retraining unemployed to fill valuable rolls that are needed by existing business in the area.

The forum is the next critical step in the Kilkenny Leader Partnership ‘Kickstart’ Programme, which links unemployed men and women in the South East with employers and gives participants specific, hands-on training to bridge key industry gaps.

ISME chief executive Mark Fielding and Bobby Kerr of coffee chain Insomnia are among those who will address the forum and discuss topics will include:

• Barriers to growth, including rural broadband, childcare costs and welfare versus work

• Improving competitiveness by taking advantage of state training and employment support

• Revenue incentives to develop your workforce

“Employers need to have more of an input into how training programmes are offered and run and this forum offers businesses a unique platform. This is an opportunity not to be missed,” Mr Fielding said. “Kickstart has been a phenomenal success in the South East. It has given its first group of participants life-long skills, confidence and hands-on experience which greatly boosts their chances of finding work. It is up to us now to throw the net a little wider, get more businesses involved and get Ireland back to work.”

To date ‘Kickstart’ has placed 12 unemployed people in companies in the region to carry out specific work while getting industry-relevant training. Several of the original recruits are now working both with placement employers on a part-time or full-time basis or in the new industry using the skills. Another dozen recruits are now ready to be matched with companies in the region who need projects completed to sustain and grow.

It is hoped that the Kilkenny Leader Partnership Kickstart programme will roll out on a regional basis in 2013 as a way of matching precise industry needs and skilled personnel while providing life-long skills to those formerly unemployed.

“Kickstart specifically targets those who are mid-career and have a wealth of experience but often lack the precise and up-to-date skills currently required by industry. Our placement programme is very different from existing Jobbridge and other FAS and VEC programmes,” said Ann-Marie McSorley of Kickstart.

“We’re not working with graduates looking for experience. Our participants are experienced, mid-career unemployed men and women who want to learn new skills. Many of them lost their jobs in the boom. We link them with businesses which need a project done and we create a customised course of project-led training to help our participants get that project done.”

“Kickstart works for our participants and it also works for employers, several of which have since employed our first group of participants to help grow their business even further,” she said. “Working with businesses, we now hope to take it one step further, to measure the need and demand for a new approach to training and unemployment within the workplace with a view to rolling out Kickstart across the country.”

Kilkenny hotelier and businessman John Ryan is one of the dozen employers who participated in the first phase of Kickstart, of which he said: “We are delighted to support Kickstart. It is a very focused and tailored initiative that trains participants for a specific job opportunity and gives them the best possible opportunity of securing work. I’d encourage more employers to get to know more about the scheme and to see how we can help it.”

The views and concerns expressed by delegates about the need and demand for new approaches to training will be fed directly back to key decision makers such as FAS, VECs and other organisations.