Fás to apply for €207m from EU

JOBS agency Fás has vowed to continue efforts to secure EU funding despite the agency being “battered” with financial scandals and allegations.

The board of Fás met last night to discuss a review of about 300 courses under its remit following the emergence of suspected malpractice in some of its training operations.

Fás director general Paul O’Toole insisted the embattled jobs agency would continue to seek EU funds despite a move by the union to freeze funding after irregularities with courses.

Mr O’Toole also suggested that it was possible that the name of the agency could be changed with efforts under way to salvage its bruised reputation.

“We do believe we’re going to be able to satisfy the inquiries. The organisation has been battered for the last number of years... the idea that Fás isn’t changing and providing services to the unemployed to the best of its ability is absolutely not the case,” he told RTÉ radio.

A claim would be submitted to the European Social Fund through the Government and all questions around the funding and running of courses would be answered, insisted Mr O’Toole.

Fás intends applying for €207 million in funds, which could be spread out over several years up until 2013.

Mr O’Toole apologised to hundreds of course participants who have still not received their training certificates because of questions over schemes.

“There is a delay in some people’s certificates. While this review was going on, we wanted to ensure that the courses themselves stood up,” he added.

There were a small number of courses, added the Fás chief, where the agency was “not happy” that assessments were carried out properly.

Meanwhile, the country’s largest craft union has said quality Fás courses must not be sacrificed due to the poor decisions taken by its management.

Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) general secretary Eamon Devoy said: “Fás is carrying out its core activities extremely well. The shortcomings identified to date relate to peripheral activities, most of them contracted out, and to poor management practices at the top.”

The TEEU official said reports that the dismantling of Fás was being planned could not come at a worse time for unemployed workers trying to upskill.

“They need certainty about their future, at least as regards being able to complete their courses, not confusion over where, or if, they will have a course next year,” he said.


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