With nearly 5000 men and women on the live register in Inishowen, any light in the gloomy world of unemployment is welcomed by community and the wider area.
So when the Job Club was set up in conjunction with Inishowen Development Partnership for people of all ages in Buncrana and Carndonagh, it brought with it a new sense of hope for the growing number of unemployed people in the peninsula.
Established some 11 years ago by Marie Monaghan, the co-ordinator has noticed the changes from people using the service to target employers throughout the Celtic Tiger years, to improving their CVs and in more recent years teaching perspective employees to become more proactive.
“During the height of our good years we had 123 employers who would come to us to find able workers, it was almost used as a method of recruitment. But nowadays there is certainly a downward trend, but we just try to focus on the employees and facilitate them in whatever way we can and whatever way they need us.”
One of the biggest changes Marie has noticed since the recession began is the effect the decline of the construction industry has had on people in Inishowen.
“We’ve had a huge increase in the number of people in that industry coming forward to us. Linked with that is the number of men taking part in the classes has increased immensely. If you looked at a class about five or six years ago there were always more women, but now there are much more men taking part. This reflects life in the peninsula at present.
“There are always going to be setbacks, and nowadays it is much tougher for people to find work than it ever was before, but the trick is to be prepared and importantly be proactive. People need to be clever.”
Last year the group helped 155 people further their career, with 37 of them opting for training courses to further their opportunities. And although there are many positives and success stories, the sadness is often overwhelming.
The group work closely with FÁS and the Department of Social Welfare, however joining the Club is completely voluntary.
“100% of people make the choice to join us, it isn’t forced on anybody. We do a lot of promotion where people can find out about our services and the Department of Social Welfare may inform people about us, but we find the best way for people to find out about us is word of mouth. “
The club itself consists of a five week course three or four mornings per week where people get help with application forms, perfecting their CV and practising interview techniques.
“We also access the profitability for people and compare wages and tax with the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. We also provide one to one sessions for people
“More recently we haven’t just focused on employment but we have helped people focus on improving their skills and getting into the field they want to be in whether it be furthering their education, volunteering or taking up some new courses. It’s about helping people achieve their own objectives. Constantly trying to develop and become more proactive the have introduced a new programme entitled ‘Winning New Opportunities’ which was initially developed in the US before being brought to Ireland by the HSE.
“This one week programme is delivered by two fully trained facilitators where we look at people’s skills and abilities as well as the obstacles’ in their paths.
“It concentrates on networking and different interview techniques.”
The job seeking course is free of charge and participants are offered 4 euro per day for travel expenses. For more information call Aisling at the Inishowen Development Partnership or drop in at St. Mary’s Road Buncrana or at the Pound Street Business Park in Carndonagh.