A wide range of Donegal supports and services available to people seeking education, employment, or training were on display at an Education and Training Showcase run by Donegal Local Development CLG (DLDC) at the Finn Valley Centre in Stranorlar last week.
The event opened with a moving address by acclaimed Donegal adventurer Nikki Bradley, who offered encouragement to over 200 attendees, many of them Tús Scheme participants or supported through DLDC’s Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP). “I think you should sign up to everything today,” advised Nikki, who has successfully completed a number of extreme physical challenges on crutches following numerous painful surgeries due to Ewing’s Sarcoma. “I think you should take a look around, speak to everybody, and if you sign up for something that doesn’t work for you, it’s not the end of the world. Just think of the people you might meet on that workshop or course. You could make one connection that could lead to another one and it could have a really positive knock-on effect. But in order for you to actually get that far you first have to walk around today and sign up. What’s the worst that could happen? You could meet somebody that, let’s be honest, could change your life.”
Participants then got the chance to take Nikki’s advice by visiting the stands of exhibitors at the event, including Donegal ETB, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT), the Regional Employment Service (RES), Safe Tech, DLDC’s Lifelong Learning programme, Ur Future Careers Academy, the Children and Young People’s Services Committee, Donegal County Council Library & Cultural Services, Parenting24seven, Citizens Information, Intreo, DLDC’s Job Club, the Donegal Volunteer Centre, and the Irish Defence Forces.
Additional event speakers discussed DLDC education, employment, and training programmes that they either deliver or have benefitted from. They included young Donegal businessman Peter Mullaney, who has gotten a successful new promotional video business, Mullaney Media, off the ground while being supported by DLDC Employment and Enterprise Co-ordinator Louise Brogan on the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme. “If you have a business concept that you’re passionate about, I really recommend you give Louise a visit,” Peter said. “She will listen and work as hard as she can to get your business supported. And the training that’s provided as part of the scheme is phenomenal, including bookkeeping, marketing, and social media.” Mary Higgins of the Regional Employment Service explained the one-to-one support available to job seekers at the RES main office in Letterkenny and outreach sites throughout the county. “If you call in to us, we can help with things like your CV, cover letters, online
applications, and interview preparation,” Mary said. “It’s very important to get your CV done up as professionally as possible because it is a selling document…it’s selling you to the employer.”
At the end of the event participants shared what they felt they’d gotten out of attending.
“It makes you think there are opportunities out there if you’re willing to grab them,” said a 36-year-old man from Donegal Town.
“It’s not all doom and gloom.” “I thought it was really good,” said a 20-year-old man from Rathmullan.
“You learn a lot. I didn’t realise Donegal had so many voluntary groups. I know now there are people there to help me if I need it. If it wasn’t for events like this, people would struggle to find all these groups.”
“It’s been informative, especially the bit about the CVs,” said a 45-year-old woman from Stranorlar.
“That’s what I will use it for. Now I know where to get help with mine.” “I was looking into learning how to use computers because I don’t have any experience on them, I spoke with Donegal ETB and found out they run computer courses. Learning that and Nikki Bradley’s talk about having more of a positive attitude rather than a negative one…those are the two main things I got out of today.” said a 46yr old woman from Kerrykeel.
Overall attendees made good use of their chance to visit the stands, lining up to speak with organisation representatives and taking information about employment and training opportunities along with them.