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Minister Burton presents certificates to graduates of the Advantage Programme

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, today (Monday, 2nd December 2013) presented certificates to graduates of the Advantage Programme in Retail Skills and Warehousing Skills. The Advantage Programme is the result of a collaboration between the Department of Social Protection, Tesco Ireland, Skillnets and Coláiste Dhúlaigh, all of whom have been involved in delivering the training programme.

A total of 36 young people aged from 18 to 24 years participated in the Advantage Programme which consisted of two individual training programmes; one in Retail Skills Training and one in Warehouse Skills Training. Each programme consisted of four modules including work placements in Tesco stores for those in the Retail Skills training programme or in the Tesco Distribution Centre for those on the Warehouse Skills training programme. Participants graduating today will be receiving a FETAC level 4 minor award for each of the modules covered..

Congratulating the graduates, Minister Burton said: “Your hard work and dedication during the six week programme has ensured that you are receiving awards in Retail Skills and in Warehousing Skills today. Your commitment, motivation and enthusiasm have not gone unnoticed by those you engaged with in the Tesco Stores, the Distribution Centre and in the classroom. The fact that 11 of you now have jobs in Tesco Ireland is proof of that.

“For those of you who are not yet in employment, my Department will continue to work you to help you find jobs. The retail sector is Ireland's largest employer with over one-quarter of a million people and it has a presence in every single town in the country. You now have a quality assured, nationally and internationally recognised qualification and very practical and transferable work experiences which reflect the needs of the retail industry.”

The Minister explained that employer support and engagement is critical to tackling unemployment. The Department of Social Protection now has a dedicated division to engage with employers and help them find recruits from the Live Register. The partnership between Government, industry and training is another approach in helping jobseekers to get back to work - the Tesco Positive2 Work Advantage Programme is an excellent model of such a partnership.

Geoff Byrne Personnel and Business Change Director, Tesco Ireland, said: “Youth unemployment is a massive challenge for us all and at Tesco Ireland we want to make a positive difference by using our resources, facilities and capabilities to help young people join the workforce. The 2013 programme saw all the participants gain invaluable on-the-job and classroom based training in a retail and warehousing setting, a good number of these students are now working with us. We are very grateful of the support of the Department of Social Protection, Skillnets and Coláiste Dhulaigh in helping make it such a success.

We are also delighted to announce today that we will be extending the programme in 2014 to include 5 locations across the country with training for some 100 young people. It will also include a training programme to be delivered in conjunction one of our key suppliers Keelings to offer young people even more training opportunities right across the supply chain.”

Alan Nuzum CEO, Skillnets commented: “Skillnets are delighted with the success of the current Tesco Positive 2 Work Skillnet programme. It has been a unique experience in working with the unemployed in partnership with the Department of Social Protection to identify job opportunities and provide certified training focused on these job opportunities. We believe that training and up-skilling are key elements in keeping Irish companies competitive. Skillnets funding, through the National Training Fund, has ensured that the training delivers a successful outcome in being fine tuned to Tesco’s needs and their work environment. It adds considerable value in that participants have an opportunity to work and learn with the support of a committed employer.

Minister Burton also reminded participants to bear in mind that if they get temporary work for up to eight weeks over the Christmas period, their Jobseeker payment will be immediately reinstated, without any delay, if and when that period of work ends.

The Minister thanked Tesco Ireland for their commitment and efforts to helping the graduates on their pathway to work and welcomed their announcement of the extension of the programme in 2014. She also thanked Skillnets and the tutors at Colaiste Dhúlaigh for their important support in delivering the Advantage Programme. The Minister concluded by wishing the graduates every success in their future career.