Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Groups lose chance of 30 jobs after admin error

Community groups are seeking legal advice after an administration error meant they lost out on funding and potential employment for 30 people.

Dove House, Rosemount Resource Centre and Creggan Neighbourhood Partnership all submitted applications for vacancies in the Step Ahead programme before the deadline of October 21.

However, an error occurred while processing the applications at the North West Regional College which meant they were overlooked or not processed in time.

The Step Ahead programme is run by the college in conjunction with the Department of Employment and Learning.

DEL Minister Stephen Farry told the North West Telegraph he wouldn’t accept late applications.

Mr Farry said: “It is regrettable that it has been necessary to introduce a pause on recruitment to the Step Ahead strand of the Steps to Work (StW) programme due to budgetary pressures on my department.

“Applications for Step Ahead vacancies closed on Friday 21 October. However, due to a combination of an administrative error and IT problems, the vacancies referred to by the member were not registered by North West Regional College before the closing date.

“As the department must be even-handed and consistent in its application of the closing date across all of our Lead Contractors, I cannot agree to accept any late applications.”

Mr Farry’s comments were met with fury by the groups affected who say they are suffering due to an error not of their making.

Sean McMonagle from the umbrella group Triax Neighbourhood Partnership added: “The right and proper thing is for the minister to accept a mistake was made but it was not made by any of the community groups who had their application in on time.

“It is not fair that we will suffer, so if he will not reconsider his decision we will have to look at other options including seeking legal advice. We did not miss our deadline, but because of an error, not of our making, we are going to suffer. It was the department’s partners NWRC who had made an error. It has robbed Derry of up to 30 jobs.”

An NWRC spokeswoman said: “North West Regional College can confirm that nine vacancies in the Step Ahead programme were overlooked due to an administrative error.

“A further 16 vacancies were unable to be processed as the result of an electronic server issue.

“The college is currently working with its subcontractors to implement additional measures aimed at advancing the administrative processes of the project.”

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