€128m fund to upskill workers who lose their jobs

IN THE face of mounting unemployment and reduced employment opportunities, yesterday’s budget introduced a range of measures designed to upskill those who lose their jobs or cannot find work.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan assigned e128 million per year to the Departments of Education and Science; Social and Family Affairs; and Enterprise for that end.

Between them they will introduce a range of measures and incentives for those who lose their jobs.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs package involves six measures relating to the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) and Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) schemes. They are intended to facilitate better access to supports and should facilitate 1,400 additional claims for support.

Under the BTWEA scheme, which encourages people claiming social welfare payments to become self-employed, Mr Lenihan reduced the duration people could claim the payments from four years to two years. However, he also reduced the qualifying period for people on the Live Register to avail of the scheme from two years to one year and allowed those who completed the scheme to reapply after five years.

Under the BTEA scheme (a payment given to those claiming welfare who opt to enter education), Mr Lenihan shortened the period on the dole after which people could enter the scheme from six months to three months for second-level education and from 12 months to nine months for third-level education.

The Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Education and Science put together 11 measures to provide 23,435 extra employment and training scheme places.

Among those, community employment scheme places increased by 400, places on 10-week training programmes increased by 12,015 and places on 20-week programmes increased by 1,833.

A new work experience scheme will create 2,000 spaces.

The Government also introduced a pilot training scheme for workers who have had their working week reduced to three days. They can apply for a year-long training scheme for the other two days. There will be 277 places on the scheme.

Mr Lenihan committed to 6,910 more places for unemployed people in further and higher education. These include 930 places on short part-time transition courses, 280 places on certificate programmes and 2,000 full-time third level places and 1,500 part-time places.

He also announced 1,500 additional Post Leaving Certificate positions, lifting a cap of 30,000 places, and the introduction of an 11-week certified training programme for up to 700 redundant apprentices per year.


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