Low-skilled workers have been badly affected by the economic downturn in Ireland. In recent months, a series multinational companies including Dell, the computer manufacturing company, announced a series of redundancies. Two thousand people out of a workforce of three thousand were made redundant, with implications for a further 840 jobs in ancillary industries. In this instance, Ireland’s loss in competitiveness resulted, in this instance, in a loss of jobs to the company’s plant in Poland.
The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) has approved funding of €14.8 million to assist computer manufacturing workers made redundant by Dell in the Mid West Region of Ireland, a region which has a higher rate of unemployment than the national average. The Fund provides active labour intervention support directly to workers made redundant as a result of globalisation.
Ireland’s application is among the largest approved under the EGF, both in terms of financial aid and the number of workers being assisted.
The application of co-funded assistance from this Fund – the government is providing an additional €8 million - will support the costs of a personalised package of occupational guidance, training, employment, entrepreneurship and educational measures for redundant workers.
In the longer term, Ireland cannot compete on low-end manufacturing. Shifting into higher-value added services requires putting in place policies to help workers retrain and upskill. This demands the provision of high-quality, flexible education and training programmes.
FÁS, the Irish National Training and Employment Authority, is responsible for establishing a dedicated EGF unit in the region to coordinate the work of the many state organisations and stakeholders.
A recent evaluation of the EGF in a case study of redundant workers in Germany and Finland* stated that it was an ‘extremely valuable addition to other funding sources’. It added that a key element of the Fund’s success in augmenting national and regional efforts was the extra time it allowed for training and for more individualised and in-depth assistance, especially for more vulnerable groups of workers.
*European Foundation: Added value of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: A comparison of experiences in Germany and Finland. Dublin: European Foundation, 2009. http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/pubdocs/2009/70/en/1/EF0970EN.pdf
Source: ReferNet Irl / FÁS