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Concern has been raised as to whether the YMCA FÁS Community Employment Scheme is reaching its full potential. There is a lack of awareness of available places.

The scheme aims to get long-term unemployed people back into work and provide them with a recognised qualification. However, when vacancies become available within the scheme they are only advertised online on websites such as jobsireland.ie, gumtree.ie or within FÁS offices.

The scheme has been operating in the YMCA on Aungier St since 1994 and offers courses in a variety of areas such as Childcare, Reception, Catering and Youth Work.

Ann Merriman is course co-ordinator in the YMCA and is disappointed people are not aware of the courses they have on offer.

“A lot of people don’t have access to computers and if they don’t come in here to take a look at our noticeboard, how are they to know what’s on offer right on their doorstep?”

The YMCA currently has places available in Childcare, Youth Work and Housekeeping. Following budget cuts, new applicants who are single parents can no longer avail of jobseekers’ payment and only receive single parent benefit while taking the course.

“It shouldn’t be about the money,” said Ms Merriman. “It should be about the qualification you receive and building self-confidence.”

Ann and her team do their best to make the scheme as appealing as possible, offering free use of the gym, classes and services available in the YMCA, but they feel let down by the lack of advertising within the community.

“Local shops and businesses aren’t willing to put posters in their windows so the only way people can find out about vacancies is by coming into the centre itself.”

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