Dell workers flock to find retraining at jobs forum

UP TO 2,000 workers who lost their jobs in Dell and nine of its supply companies yesterday attended the first of a two-day information forum to help get them back into the workplace.

Workers hit by the Dell pullout qualify for money from the €22.8 million EU globalisation fund to help re-skill, enter third-level education or set up their own businesses.

Fás, along with 37 other organisations, including third-level colleges, private training providers, enterprise support agencies, and training bodies were inundated with queries about education courses and training on offer.

Alan Kelly MEP, who with Sean Kelly MEP helped secure €14.8m from the EU – matched by €8m from the Government – said: “This is the application of EU funding to help real people get real training and real education to get back into real jobs. A senior Fás executive, Dave Smith, has been seconded to oversee the fund. We must now ensure that those who embark on retraining and education do not have their social welfare entitlements interfered with and that the Department of Social Welfare don’t use this fund to reduce their outlay. Everybody availing of the fund needs a derogation when they go to social welfare that their claims are not affected.”

For many the information forum was the first time they had met former work colleagues since losing jobs.

Caroline Bourke from Rhebogue, Limerick, Caroline Murphy from Prospect and Lorraine Madigan from St Patricks Road, caught up with each other having worked for years on the same assembly line at Banta.

Ms Madigan, 24, admitted: “I’d like a job and not some course.”

David Gavin, 34, from Garryowen, worked at Dell for 10 years. Five workmates of his at Dell have left for Canada.

“I keep up with them on Facebook and they all have jobs and I will have to consider going there. I think this information event is a kind of PR stunt to make it look like they are doing something. The reality is jobs are not there,” he said.

Tralee Institute of Technology flagged a special course it has devised for those eligible to avail of the globalisation fund.

Kathriana Purtill, the institute’s external services manager, said: “We set up a Bright Path taster programme designed for those affected by Dell. We have had a lot of interest today from workers living in the Listowel and Abbeyfeale areas.”

The taster programme lasts eight weeks and gives those taking part a “taste” of science, business and engineering degree courses.

The value of the globalisation fund is illustrated by the fact that if a worker had to pay for the taster course it would cost €1,100 and a four-year degree course would involve fees and tuition costs of €19,200.

The information forum continues at the South Court in Limerick today.

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