Learning at Work is a flagship programme for the Dublin Employment Pact. It supports young people (aged 18-30) who left school without completing second level education and who are now in jobs. These workers often cannot progress in their jobs due to a lack of formal qualifications. They are also very vulnerable to an economic downturn.
Learning at Work has informed, and continues to inform, the move at national level towards lifelong learning and the efforts to upskill all workers in the economy.
This important initiative fits with the broader mission of the Pact as regards Dublin’s labour market. It also fits with the education and employment objectives of Pobal and of the Local Development Social Inclusion Programme under successive National Development Plans (including 2007-2013).
Learning at Work 1
The origins of Learning at Work go back to 1999, when the Education and Employment Group of the Pact established priorities in relation to tackling educational disadvantage and low skill levels. Among these was a need to promote increased linkages between education/training and people already in the workplace.
A major Pact study (M. Morgan (St. Patrick's College), School and Part-time Work in Dublin - The Facts. Survey, Analysis and Recommendations (2000)) recommended further options for combining work with school completion and upskilling.
Between 2001 and 2003, the Pact, in partnership with FÁS and the Dept of Education and Science, oversaw three projects piloting innovative models of school completion for employed young people who had left school early. These projects were implemented successfully in Coolock, Tallaght and Clondalkin, as confirmed by a 2003 evaluation by MAZARS Consulting. (Evaluation Report).
The pilot programme led to the involvement of IBEC and ICTU and the programme’s success was raised at national social partnership talks. This led to a specific commitment to continue its funding in Sustaining Progress (p30).
From 2004 to 2006, the Dublin Employment Pact worked with FÁS and the Dept of Education and Science to extend the original pilot programme. Projects were implemented in Tallaght, Clondalkin and Blanchardstown and input was provided to similar projects outside Dublin. Major employers came on board and the involvement of one (Jacob Fruitfield) was featured on RTE’s main evening news.
Learning at Work has developed:
The 2004-2006 programme has been fully (and positively) evaluated by Hibernian Consulting. (Evaluation Report).
Learning from the 2004-2006 programme was disseminated to policy makers at a recent seminar held in the Clock Tower at the Department of Education and Science. The evaluation report on the programme was launched by Mr. Brian Lenihan TD, Junior Minister at the Department.
Focus in 2007
The Pact, through its Education and Employment Group, is working with FÁS and the Department of Education and Science in 2007 to develop a further programme to continue the work of helping this important (and often over-looked) target group. This work is being informed by Towards 2016, by the NDP for 2007-2017, by the 2007-2013 ESF programme and by the government’s plans (under its One Step Up programme) to upskill all workers in the Irish economy.