Government awards €2.89m consultancy contract – 9,000 construction workers still in dark
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has accused the Minister for Education of “incompetence” following further revelations of mismanagement of a €35million retraining programme for redundant construction workers. The Department of Education has awarded a contract to WRC Consultancy of up to €2.89million to provide ‘technical and administrative’ support to the Department in running the training programme despite the fact that none of the 9,000 eligible workers have been contacted.
Deputy Doherty said:
“Last June the Government applied for €41 million from the European Globalisation Fund to provide retraining support for 9,000 named construction workers made redundant between 2009 and 2010.
“The European Commission in October of this year approved €35 million to provide supports for almost 6,000 of these workers.
“Despite now being redundant for more than two years and having been named in the application submitted to the European Union last June, none of the 9,000 workers have been contacted by the Department.
“Now it appears that the Department of Education has awarded a contract to WRC Consultancy to the tune of up to €2.89m to provide ‘technical and administrative’ support to the Department in running a €35m European Globalisation Fund.
“While the details of what ‘technical and administrative’ support a will entail are not yet clear it is astounding that the Government has awarded this contract before contacting any of the 9,000 individuals in whose names this funding has been secured.
“The European Globalisation Fund is intended to provide tailor made training opportunities for redundant workers to complement existing provision by state agencies. The funding must be spent by June 2012. Any money that is not spent by this date must be returned to Brussels.
“Clearly the Minister for Education has his priorities all wrong. How can a contract be awarded to a private consultancy firm before the individuals who are meant to benefit from the funding have even been contacted? Not only have their training needs not been assessed for the purposes of developing the tailored made training but the Government does not even know if they are still in the country. Yet up to €2.89m is being handed out to private consultants for as yet unspecified support.
“While Ruarí Quinn inherited this mess from his predecessor he has now been in office for eight months and very little appears to have changed. His approach is nothing short of incompetent.
“The big losers in all of this will be the 9,000 named workers who have yet to be told if there is extra support for them to assist them in up-skilling and returning to employment and who may lose valuable opportunities as a result of political and departmental mismanagement.” ENDS