Applications roll in from jobless for college places

HUNDREDS of free college training places will be offered from this morning to people who have lost their jobs.

But Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) said last night that it has already had 40 applications for its 124 places.

The Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT) is also offering 139 places, University of Limerick (UL) will offer 130 free part-time undergraduate college places and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) will offer 90 places.

They are among 1,500 part-time places on offer as part of the Government’s efforts to retrain and upskill the labour force, and are being co-funded by the Department of Education and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

People in receipt of jobseekers allowance and jobseekers benefit will still be able to claim their benefits while attending the courses.

The UL places are on engineering and business degrees, ITT and WIT are seeking applications for degrees in a range of disciplines, and more than a dozen places will be available for a manufacturing technology course in Limerick Institute of Technology.

CIT’s courses will cover disciplines like IT systems maintenance, process control and automation, sustainable energy systems, engineering technology, entrepreneurship and business, and good manufacturing practice.

They will run for two semesters from September to May 2010 and people will have to attend just two days a week for the 13 teaching weeks of each semester. Persons with suitable experience may be eligible to apply to have their prior learning recognised in respect of elements of the courses, a CIT spokesperson said.

Those who complete the courses will get an award on the National Framework of Qualifications.

CIT’s vice president for development, Michael Delaney, said the development of the courses will help people who have lost their jobs to improve their employability.

“The opportunities are free, flexible and targeted at areas where employment growth is predicted,” he said. “Everybody in the employment market must find an edge, a new step up the employability ladder.”

CIT will operate a special phone line (021-4326060) and a special email address opendoor@cit.ie, and a drop-in service for applicants. More details are available on www.cit.ie. The closing date for applications is Thursday, August 20.

Meanwhile, the Government announced plans yesterday to invest €65,000 in CIT to help it develop services aimed at getting more students from disadvantaged areas into third-level education.

“This funding targets groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education, including mature students and students with disabilities,” Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe said.

The money is coming from the Government’s dormant accounts fund which takes money in long-forgotten bank accounts and invests it in worthwhile projects.

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