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Routes To A Better Future
25/10/2012 00:00:00

LCAES and local agencies work together to help unemployed Limerick people improve their life chances.

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., attended a Good Practice Showcase, entitled ‘Routes to a Better Future’, which was held in Limerick City Adult Education Service (LCAES), O’Connell Avenue on Friday the 19th of October.

LCAES, which is part of City of Limerick VEC, works with a wide range of local and national stakeholders to identify and respond to the learning needs of adults in Limerick City. The purpose of today’s event was to explain how LCAES has repackaged its wide range of individual part time courses into 4 distinct bundles, or ‘Learning Routes’ and how its staff work in partnership with colleagues in local communities and the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to promote and deliver these programmes.

The Routes Model, which emerged early in 2012, was designed to help adult learners, and their advocates, fully understand the complex range of individual LCAES courses and make the best choices in relation to them. Some of the Routes are quite general in nature, focusing on developing learners’ basic skills and confidence, while others emphasise employability and progression in particular occupational areas. All lead to certification, with most Route 1, 2 and 3 courses leading to Major Awards. Mary Cooney, Jobs Facilitator with the DSP, who spoke at the event, referred to the importance of people getting effective guidance, which would enable them take up the learning pathways that are right for them. She said: “We recognise that the progression routes for many people can be so very different. For some it can be participation in full time education and for others the starting point might simply be taking a class one night a week or a sewing class in their local community centre”.

The ‘Routes to a Better Future’ model demonstrates how local VEC adult education and guidance staff and DSP staff (formerly FÁS Employment Services, Local Employment Service, Social Welfare Service & Community Welfare Service) work in partnership to help unemployed people in Limerick get back to work. Since launching the Routes model in June 2012, in excess of 500 adult learners have been interviewed, with 320 of these being placed on the new programmes. Referrals are being made and further applications are being processed on a daily basis, indicating that this new inter-agency approach makes sense to customers and partners alike. It is proving effective in engaging adults in learning and is clearly a model that can be further developed in the months and years ahead.

In her address to the Showcase, Minister Burton commented: “This model is a positive and efficient way of ensuring that people who are unemployed are given the best opportunity to acquire suitable skills and qualifications. I am pleased that the relevant organisations in Limerick, including my own Department, are working in partnership to the common goal of improving jobseekers’ chances of getting back to work both now and when the economy recovers. I would encourage other communities to examine the model being showcased at Limerick City Adult Education Service today and replicate it, or those parts of it which will best support jobseekers, in their own areas.”
A former LCAES learner and current university student Raphael Moore, who was unemployed following redundancy from DELL, also highlighted the importance of working in partnership if we are to get out of the current crisis. He said: “Isn’t this what adult education is all about at the end of the day? It’s about community and people helping each other and going the extra mile.”

Photo Left to Right: Mary Cooney (DSP); Anne McGovern (DSP);  Maire Kerrane (LCAES);  Mary Hamilton (LCAES);  Minister Joan Burton;  Mayor Gerry McLoughlin;  Colin Cummins (LCAES);  Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan; Jim Lynch (DSP).

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