Belfast Telegraph

Long-term jobless get help for new ventures

By Clare Weir

A new scheme to help more than 2,000 people across Northern Ireland learn new skills and explore the possiblity of self-employment, has been launched.

The Exploring Enterprise2 programme starts this month and will focus on people who have recently lost their jobs and those who have been unemployed over a long term by providing the means to help them start their own business or get a new job.

Unveiling the initiative, the Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, said that it would support and development the opportunities for people who are unemployed to enter self employment or to secure and sustain entry back into the workforce.

"We believe that by assisting people in this way that we are providing the mechanisms for effective solutions to supporting people back into employment," he said.

"The programme has been introduced following research which indicates that a combination of lack of qualifications, confidence and role models are barriers to self employment by those people who are deemed long-term unemployed.

"A total of 141 courses will be delivered throughout Northern Ireland over the next three years, with each participant receiving a CCEA accredited qualification in 'understanding business enterprise'."

The accredited training is part-financed by the European Social Fund and the Department for Employment and Learning.

Gordon Gough, chief executive of Enterprise Northern Ireland, said the training will build on the first phase of the business programme which attracted 1,099 people by helping new participants improve their employment prospects.

"Already people who have participated in the training have gone on to establish their own business which reinforces the value of training and the importance of providing such opportunities," he said.