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 people in West Limerick under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF).

The main cohort to be assisted comprises the workforce made redundant last autumn from the Andersen Ireland Limited jewellery manufacturing plant in Rathkeale, of whom almost 70% are female. The remaining cohort is made up of young people under the age of 25 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.

The latest EGF application runs until 16th May 2016 and includes 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 businesses.

The announcement has been welcomed by Dan Neville TD, the recently elected Chairman of Fine Gael Parliamentary Party.