Drawing on the past to create future employment in Rothe House

A HERITAGE-based FÁS course being run in Rothe House is getting such a good response that those behind it are hoping to grow it with possible links to courses at Waterford Institute of Technology.

A HERITAGE-based FÁS course being run in Rothe House is getting such a good response that those behind it are hoping to grow it with possible links to courses at Waterford Institute of Technology.

The FÁS local training initiative – a Fetac Level 5 major award for specific employment skills – is in its first year, following on from a course run in Rothe House since the late 1980s. The former course helped compile a computer database of parish records in County Kilkenny, which now forms the basis of Rothe House’s genealogy service.

The current eight-month course includes modules such as archaeology, local history and heritage, plus reception and communications, safety in the workplace, personal effectiveness in the workplace, manual handling, first aid and EDCL computer instruction.

The 12 participants are now preparing to go out on work experience, and they have been helping out in Rothe House, including a recent photo shoot to promote the 17th-century merchant’s house as a destination for wedding photography.

“This is only one of two heritage courses through FÁS in the South East,” noted Rothe House CEO Roisin McQuillan.

“We felt very strongly that whatever course we came up with needed to fit with the objectives of Rothe House. So we are raining people to come out with knowledge that they would be fit for work in a city and county that is very heritage-focused.”

The course is run by project co-ordinator Padraic Treacy, along with trainer and assistant co-ordinator Geraldine McGilligan, and external trainers Gertie Keane and Victoria Barnes. The course is full-time, and participants all started at Junior Cert level.

“We have had regular meetings with FÁS in Waterford and we have had hugely successful feedback from them,” Ms McQuillan said. “They have agreed in principal that we can run it next year.”

That is good news, said Mr Treacy, because the next course is in demand already, with four or five people on a waiting list. (The application process will take place around May, but anyone wanting more information can contact him at any time at 056 7751108 or khpfas@hotmail.com.)

They have also been in talks with Waterford IT about how the students can progress from the Rothe House-based course.

“We want to build a relationship with WIT’s tourism department about a progression of education from Fetac Level 5 (Leaving Cert) to Levels 6 and 7, which are degree levels,” Ms McQuillan said. “It is not just about employment, but also about progressing through the education system.”

One of the current students is Sinead Gibbons of Stoneyford, who said she got the idea to sign up for the course after her brother and a cousin undertook courses as well. “I was unemployed at the time and I just thought the course sounded really interesting, so I said I’d give it a shot,” she said.

She now says she can’t recommend it enough. She finds the subject matter interesting and the teachers informative and helpful. “There is a good atmosphere,” she said. “I just love the course.”

For her work experience, she would like something to do with Rothe House or the Heritage Council – “anything in tourism, something where I would learn more about the county, not just generic business.”

“If you have a genuine interest in Kilkenny city or county and archaeology, it would be a perfect course,” she said.