Employability West Cork is helping people to get back into the workforce while also providing employers with quality staff
ON Thursday, February 9th last, more than 30 members of the business community in West Cork turned up for a breakfast meeting held in the Eldon Hotel in Skibbereen to hear representatives of Employability West Cork spread the word about the organisation, the services offered and how local employers can get involved.
The key aim of Employability is helping people back to work who have had an illness, injury, mental health issue or other health condition, while at the same time providing local employers with quality staff. The secret to the service’s ongoing success is matching the right candidate to the right employer with the support of a dedicated job coach. This, combined with the strong community spirit across West Cork and employers’ willingness to support the service by employing locals who need a start, has ensured that the organisation has been going strong for over 12 years.
Adam Walsh from Field’s SuperValu in Skibbereen and Darragh O’Farrell of Schull Harbour Hotel spoke positively about their experience with the service. Adam highlighted how the staff he employed had fully integrated into his team and Darragh emphasised how liaising with Employability was important to the success of the service.
Employability West Cork, funded by the Department of Social Protection (DSP), has assisted a range of individuals from a myriad range of backgrounds, skills and abilities. They have helped them overcome hurdles to employment and to rebuild their confidence in what they can achieve.
Employability co-ordinator Eilish Harrington stressed how important the role of the community is to the service. It covers the whole of West Cork – from Castletownbere to Kinsale – and the local offices mean that co-ordinators are readily on hand to advise and assist employers in their recruitment needs. She and her colleagues in Bantry, Skibbereen, Clonakilty, Bandon and Kinsale are committed to putting in the time and effort with the clients referred to them and with the employers they engage with. However, without ongoing local support the service wouldn’t be feasible.
Clients referred by the DSP are offered 18 months’ support to assess their needs, find, secure and keep a job – a process that is individually tailored to each person, be they fresh out of school or just out of hospital.
Eilish, who is based in the Bantry Employability office said: ‘The main thing about Employability is that it’s a free, confidential employment service. We match clients who come to us with local businesses. They could be skilled or unskilled, depending on different aspects of their lives and what’s happened to them and we try to find them a job in their locality and help them to retain it.
‘It is a disability service, but we are working hard to lose the stigma of that word. Disabilities come in all shapes, sizes and forms, but they don’t have to exclude people from the workplace. Those suffering from mild depression, anxiety, dyslexia, some form of physical disability or even those who have just suffered some bad luck. They might have lost a job, been long-term unemployed and need to get back into it, we can help them. Clients are referred to us by the Department of Social Protection when they are able and willing to work by themselves with the support of a trained Job Coach. We then try to link them with the right job in the right place.’
‘We want people and potential employers to know we’re here,’ Eilish continued. ‘We have five offices around West Cork with dedicated work coaches working one-on-one with clients getting them ready for a job and liaising with potential employers to ensure a smooth transition with continuous support. That’s what sets Employability aside from other services. We wouldn’t recommend someone for a job we felt they couldn’t do. That wouldn’t help our client and it wouldn’t encourage an employer to come back to us again, either. We are only as strong as our last job placement.’
There is a strong sense of community about what Employability West Cork offers, especially in the rural setting that is West Cork. ‘There isn’t a huge amount of employment available in West Cork,’ added Eilish, ‘so we want to get the word out to employers that there is a wealth of talent available to them locally. We would like employers to look to us and see what we have to offer when they have vacancies to fill.’
Fresh from employer meetings in Skibbereen and a Farm Safety event in Schull, Employability’s Michéal Hurley added: ‘We have a broad range of clients on our books – from school leavers to those with completed PhDs and everything in between. We cater for people who are burned out, suffering from anxiety, stress, depression or dyslexia – all sorts. When people’s lives get to a low ebb and they don’t feel very well for whatever reason , we’re here to give them a leg-up. It’s not all about just earning a wage. It’s about getting up in the morning and interacting with people again.’
Employability West Cork would very much like to talk with more employers and to have more jobseekers avail of the service. Call now: Bandon 023-8841311; Clonakilty 023-8858592; Skibbereen 086-8158786; Bantry 027-53765 and Kinsale 086-6007964. Coordinator 086-8546559. www.empservice.org