How to get out of long-term unemployment

Much of the advice given about finding your next role relates to effectively using your network, targeting the right employers and ensuring that at the CV and interview stage, you show how your skills will benefit your prospective employer.

Tue, September 17th, 14:58


What do you do when you’ve been unemployed for more than a year and the skills that once had you working aren’t in demand any more?

That unfortunately is the situation facing many people in Ireland today. The CSO figures for August show the live register at 415,300 (adjusted), 196,808 of these people are on the live register more than 1 year and 16.5% of persons on the live register are under 25.

In a market where people are competing for jobs more than ever before, relevant skills and recent work experience tend to win out in the job hunt. Depending on the cohort, only 6-13 people out of every 100 people emerge from long-term unemployment without intervention. The proportion of people on the live register for more than 3 years is the highest increasing grouping.

Those figures make for harsh reading if you are in that situation. So, what can you do?

The important thing is to realise that there is a future for you, and ways to make your journey back to employment. Knowing where to look is where we’ll start.

Before you start looking at retraining, you need to appreciate that to get that elusive start back to employment, the employer’s perspective for hiring is based on knowledge, skills and attitude – a new dimension has now been added and that is recent work experience.

We are going to start with gaining the knowledge. Look to the following sites to see what courses they offer to retrain you, in terms of demand in the Irish economy. Food and drink manufacture, healthcare and IT are all areas of growth. Looking at areas of export growth offer even more stability.

Where you start depends on your existing education. For someone who has done the Leaving Cert and gone into unskilled work and may have family commitments they need to work around, working as a healthcare assistant is a real option. Where you have a primary degree that is not in demand, a conversion course may be the place to start.

The sites to start with are:

FAS – here you’ll find training courses that generally run Monday to Friday in your local area. Most FAS courses (with the exception of healthcare support) don’t have a work experience module. However, there is nothing stopping you from asking your tutor to help you gain work experience even if it is without pay, as the commitment to your future shown is not lost on most employers.

Springboard – here you’ll find conversion courses where you have a primary degree and you want to convert it to another discipline, these opportunities are generally run in conjunction with a particular industry so it is important that you contact the institution relevant to your course of interest and ask them of their own record for work placement and conversion to full time employment. Like everything it varies, so make the call.

Momentum – This scheme is administered through FAS. However, the company gets paid in pieces for training, employment support, work placement and getting you a job. These courses are targeted at growth areas in the Irish economy and export sectors.

Having seen people succeed and return to employment when they were previously despondent about the future means I can say the following – take control. Look around at the options available and question the course providers on their success – people will want to see you succeed. Make the choice that gives you the best chance of success and appreciate that even though the last number of years have been hard, there are opportunities to change the future. Regardless of the opportunities available, your first point on your journey back to employment is deciding where to go and making the schemes and opportunities out there work for you.

Siobhan Kinsella

The Irish Times