Minister Cannon announces EGF application for redundant Talk Talk workers

The Minister for Training and Skills, Ciarán Cannon, T.D., announced that his Department had submitted an application on29 February 2012for EU co-financing under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to support 592 redundant workers at the Talk Talk call centre facility inWaterfordand three ancillary enterprises.

Minister Cannon said “The application that my Department submitted will, if approved by the EU, assist us to provide a mix of training, education, enterprise support and upskilling interventions to former Talk Talk workers. The support of the EU in demonstrating solidarity with redundant workers inIreland, and in the approval of the activation measures put in place to support them, is well known. Particularly in these times of continuing economic challenge and severe demands on the public finances, EGF assistance is a very welcome and practical assistance towards improving the employability of redundant workers and keeping them close to the labour market”.

The application is made in respect of interventions costed in the region of €5.4m with 50% to be provided by the EU if it is ultimately successful. The Government will match this funding from Exchequer and National Training Fund sources. The EGF programme, if approved, will run for 24 months until end February 2014.

The Minister said “The EGF application and approval process is a complex and time consuming one in procedural terms. The Government is conscious of the need to act swiftly to assist redundant workers particularly in terms of guidance and with offers of real, practical interventions. In this context, my Department has already sanctioned the implementation of a number of supports even before this application was itself finalised and submitted. This is in addition to the very useful supports provided to date locally by FÁS and other agencies and by certain local skillnets funded through Skillnets Limited as soon as the redundancies were first announced in September 2011”.

Amongst the measures being offered under the EGF application are additional employment services supports and advice, FÁS and VEC training courses, a certificate in career development and skills enhancement at Waterford Institute of Technology and the development of an accelerated programme in the science field, EGF training grants for study in private colleges and training organisations and enterprise supports through the City and County Enterprise Boards. In addition, an EGF contribution towards the expenses incurred in attending courses is being proposed which will assist eligible redundant workers in meeting some of the basic costs of accessing guidance, training and education courses such as travel, subsistence and course materials.

Minister Cannon stated “The Department has engaged in a review of previous EGF programmes including an ongoing public consultation phase. We are seeking to act on a number of the findings already coming out of the review process including deeper consultation with the redundant workers, earlier interventions and assistance with some of the core costs that effectively prevent greater take-up of EGF interventions”.

He went on to state that “This is without doubt an application founded on the needs and wishes of the redundant workers themselves. Worker representatives together with local service providers formed a group chaired by the Waterford City Manager and there has been considerable direct interaction both by myself personally and my officials with this group. The key Government Departments and agencies have reviewed proposals presented by the group and refined them in consultation with the EGF Managing Authority in my Department. I am confident that the EU budgetary authorities will look favourably on what is now a very well structured and practical application in support of this cohort”.

The co-ordination of EGF services for the Talk Talk workers will be provided by the specialist EGF coordination unit which has worked previously on the EGF programme for redundant Dell workers and the three ongoing construction programmes. The unit, which is co-ordinating guidance supports with the Employment Services office of the Department of Social Protection, has an office inWaterfordCityand will be open for walk-in referrals from12th March 2012. All eligible redundant workers will be written to individually by9th March 2012in relation to the types of services currently available. In the interim general enquiries may be made to the Unit’s freephone number 1800 303 550. Further information will also be made available on the Department’s dedicated website www.egf.ie.