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Sinn Féin demand shake-up of Job Skills programme

2 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Michael Ferguson has said that a Public Accounts Committee on 'Job Skills' due to be released tomorrow is expected to be extremely critical of the programme. Mr Ferguson that this must act as a 'Wake Up Call' for direct rule ministers.

Commenting upon the Job Skills Programme on the eve of the publication Michael Ferguson said:

" The Job Skills Programme is fundamentally flawed because, like all existing skills based programmes, it the fails to acknowledged that the majority of young people accessing job skills come from communities characterised by multiple deprivation and that this requires additional investment and support.

"The Job Skills Programme is riddled with problems. The disgraceful Training Allowance of £40 hasn't changed in over 10 years is not only demotivating but also contributes to poverty because of the loss of access to other benefits.

"The programme in its entirety is financed from the public purse with little or no investment from Employers. This means employers have no sense of ownership. Incentives offered to the employer are also confusing and bureaucratic.

"Government needs to ensure that Employers have ownership of skills and training and in particular government also need to work with employers to guarantee placements for young people are available and underpinning this with an Insurance Plan is crucial.

"If we are to ensure that we address the skills deficit then we need to target social need which clearly has not happened because the unemployment levels in areas like the Shankill and Falls have not changed dramatically in 30 years. Of equal importance is the need to ensure that the training proved is of a quality that that meets the requirements of employers." ENDS

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