New EGF Application for Jewellery Manufacture Workers in Rathkeale

The Department of Education and Skills has, with the approval of the Minister for Training and Skills, Ciaran Cannon T.D., submitted an application for EU co-funding for a programme of guidance, training, education and enterprise supports for over 300 persons in West Limerick under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF).

The main cohort to be assisted comprises the workforce made redundant in Quarter 3 of 2013 from the Andersen Ireland Limited jewellery manufacturing plant in Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, of whom almost 70% are female. The remaining cohort is made up of young persons under the age of 25 years in the same region, which has suffered considerable social and economic disadvantage, and who are not currently in education, training or employment.

This is a new feature of the amended EGF Regulation which came into force this year for the funding round to 2020 and which Ireland played a key role in negotiating during its presidency of the EU last year. The Irish application is understood to be amongst the first in the EU to include the new so called “NEETs” provision which is seen by the EU as being in synergy with the Youth Employment Initiative aimed at reducing the number of young people at risk of long term unemployment in the Union.

This is the eighth Irish EGF application to date made by the Irish authorities and the first since the Talk Talk programme in Waterford which ended in February 2014. Ireland has assisted over 9,700 redundant workers, delivering almost 22,500 individual interventions at a total cost in the region of €60m since 2009. The EU has to date provided between 50% – 65% of the cost of these labour market activation measures with the remaining funds being sourced nationally through the National Training Fund and voted expenditure of Government Departments such as the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Social Protection.

The latest EGF application, if approved by the EU, will run until 16 May 2016 and will include a wide ranging programme of occupational and career guidance, public and privately sourced training including EGF training grants, second and third level education courses, a contribution scheme to assist with the cost of participation in training and education and enterprise supports for those seeking to set up their own business. Initial estimates by the Department of Education and Skills put the total cost of the programme at €2.5m should all funding be drawn down ultimately.

Minister Cannon said “The EGF has been a valuable fund for Ireland in assisting vulnerable workers made redundant by the adverse impacts of globalisation. Ireland has a good record in securing approval of its programmes and in our use of the fund to date. We look forward to assisting many of the redundant workers at Andersen Ireland Ltd. and from the young unemployed cohort back into the labour force as quickly as possible with EGF support”.

EGF applications must be approved by both the European Council and Parliament as well as the European Commission. This is a lengthy process and in the interim funding of the proposed programme of labour market activation measures will be met by the Irish authorities.