The ESF is helping to reverse the rising unemployment seen in Ireland in recent years. One priority is to retrain the workforce to give people new skills for the future. Another emphasis is on training job-seekers from disadvantaged groups to help them get skills and qualifications and find work.
A wide range of training and education measures are helping workers across Ireland improve their skills and career prospects. The ESF is supporting a labour-activation initiative which is playing a key role in this – for example, providing 12 000 training places in 2011. And these initiatives go beyond training in new skills – they are complemented with job search and career guidance to provide pathways to work.
ESF projects are involving employers to design training curricula that are relevant and will lead to jobs, and to ensure work placements are available to job-seekers and young people. Other successful projects are supporting graduates with business-oriented courses in fields such as logistics and entrepreneurship where teaching is accompanied by factory visits and networking with potential employers.
ESF funding is being directed at groups of people who face particular obstacles to getting a job. These include the long-term unemployed, older workers, the low-skilled and people with disabilities. ESF projects are giving young people with few qualifications a second chance to boost their skills and qualifications. Disabled job-seekers are being helped by working with employers to adapt workplaces. And immigrants are being offered training and work-placement opportunities to help them integrate into working life. For job-seekers lacking literacy skills there are catch-up courses that can be tailored to individual needs.
The ESF is also boosting entrepreneurship as a way into work – for example, by supporting self-employment in traveller communities, and also in the award-winning ‘Going for Growth’ programme to help women entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.