On the 15th and 16th April 2015, CDETB in collaboration with the Ballymun Jobs Centre, hosted a visit by a group of 22 programme managers from nine different European countries. The visit was part of the European project NNN (Net not NEET) which is a two year networking project looking at strategies to deal with the issue of young people Not (engaged) in Employment, Education or Training (NEET). At EU level NEET young people are considered one of the most problematic groups in the context of youth unemployment.
Net not NEET wants to improve networking and co-operation, to exploit resources already existing in each country involved and to look at how to improve the co-ordination between employment services and relevant public authorities, to better respond to the different needs of NEET people at local and European level. The project has run a series of workshops which NEET young people attended and put forward their thoughts and opinions on how the education and employment systems hadn’t worked for them. The results of these workshops will be presented at a European Transnational conference. The project is also closely linked to the pilot Youth Guarantee schemes that are being rolled out across Europe.
On the first day, the group visited a mix of CDETB and non CDETB centres. Firstly there was a presentation on the Equal Youth and Ballyrunners Initiatives in the Ballymun Jobs Centre. The group then made the short walk to Ballymun Youthreach Centre. They were given a warm welcome by Jacqui Caulfield and her staff and were treated to freshly baked scones made by the students that morning. Bernadette Reilly gave an overview of the Youthreach service and outlined how it helped young people. Ryan Whitaker, one of the students attending the Ballymun centre, told the group how positive his experience in Youthreach had been after he had dropped out of school. He then gave the group a short tour of the centre. After that, they visited the Ballymun Regional Youth Resource Centre (BRYR), which is partly funded through CDYSB, following which they took a bus the short distance to Whitehall College of Further Education, where they were welcomed by the Chairman of the CDETB Committee, Cllr Paddy Bourke, Principal Ann O’Reilly and some of her staff. Here they were given an overview of the courses provided by Whitehall College and then Joyce Trimble, VTOS co-ordinator, talked about the VTOS, BTEI and BTEA programmes for unemployed persons wishing to return to education. One of the students, Habeeb Goodluck talked about the difference returning to education under VTOS had made to his life.
Thursday was a peer review day, which was hosted by Adult Education Officer Celia Rafferty in the Adult Education Regional Office in Ballymun. Also in attendance was David Treacy, Education Offer and Maria Murphy, Finglas Training Centre Manager. In the morning, the group were given presentations. David gave a comprehensive presentation on the Irish Education system and an overview of CDETB and its range of educational provision. He described developments in FET and how CDETB has engaged with the pilot Youth Guarantee Scheme. There followed presentations on the Ballymun Jobs Centre, the pilot Youth Guarantee Scheme and then Louise Fitzpatrick from CDYSB presented on Youth Services in Dublin and some initiatives piloted to combat Youth Unemployment.
The afternoon session consisted of six tables being set up, each table having representatives from the services the group had seen, which allowed for questions and discussions of how these services could be transferable to their countries.
Following the experience David Treacy said ‘Our guests clearly enjoyed meeting all of the strands of CDETB that are involved in working with young people and we really enjoyed meeting them. They got to imagine these services in their country, to make observations and to ask in-depth questions. Very often Europe looks to Nordic countries for solutions to problems facing education and training. The exchanges today showed we all share the same challenges. No one country has the ideal solution to complex problems but working together allows us to combine expertise and experience and look for joint solutions. There was real practical conversation today and a genuine experience of working together as inspiring’.
The day finished with a re-cap of all the issues raised and how they could be progressed. Overall the visit was a great success and the guests captured a flavour of the wide range of CDETB services available to young people.