Thursday, August 2, 2012

FAS - Feck, Arse, Shite?

I know. You're probably wondering how I, normally more articulate than today's heading may suggest, could have regressed to the mental level of Father Jack Hackett!
However, everyone who is struggling to find employment in Ireland will also understand my suspiciousness that comes along with the mention of FAS, the Irish National Training and Employment Authority.

Despite there not being many job openings, FAS and JobBridge seemingly create opportunities for job seekers through so-called placements or internships, which are provided by private or public institutions. Anyone with little or no work experience, as well as people who have been long-term unemployed, are given the chance to contribute to society and get their feet in the so-called door, while working for free and waiting to collect their dole.

Sounds great, doesn't it?

What remains unmentioned, however, is the fact that even bigger opportunities are given to the potential employers, who decide to advertise with FAS or JobBridge.
Positions requiring a low or medium level of qualification, which normally would have been filled in by contractors or advertised as tenders, are now offered to people who may not have any qualification at all, as long as they work for free. That might sound bitter, but I am also talking from my own experiece.

Unlike FAS, the national job bridge scam - ehm, scheme I mean - even lists a number of requirements that a candidate must fulfill to apply for a placement, one of which being the eligibility for social welfare! This way, large numbers of people are ruled out from the very start and job seekers who had hoped for a fresh start are once again left behind demoralized.

But as we all know, there are always two sides to every story and bad experiences with Irelands big employment bureau did not stop me from consulting them at around this time last year.

Beaten down by the sight of rejection letters, which appropriately are often referred to as "fuck off letters" , I walked into our local FAS office to seek advice.

They offered me the chance to take place in a six week course on CV and interview preparation, which I wasn't to keen on at first. The thought of a token course with a bunch of unmotivated people just passing their time and an instructor, who wouldn't tell me anything that I hadn't heard before, did not bare any redeeming features. Except for one: The prospect of an expert to cross-read my CV and tell me what I have been doing wrong all along.
Eventually, I decided to go for it and guess what!

I wasn't disappointed at all!

Our instructor Terry O'Brien turned out to be a very capable man, who had been giving those classes for years and definitely exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations in this course.
Besides cross-reading CVs and rating our appearance at mock interviews, he would analyse our job hunting strategies from all angles and encourage us to find out what we really want from a job, which would sometimes even lead to the conclusion that people had been searching for the wrong position all along.
Another part of the course were group exercises, which I also enjoyed as my fellow participants were people of all ages and professional backgrounds, all of them sharing a serious approach to their respective careers.

So, it seems that after all that moaning and groaning even the national employment authority has positives that should not stay unmentioned. Anything else would be an ecumenical matter (I know, that doesn't make sense. I just wanted to finish this off with another Father Ted catchphrase ;-).


  1. Hi Julia. I am almost at the end of a 48 week course in IT. I am now qualified as a desktop/laptop technician and now doing my network engineer exams. FAS was something I looked down my nose at and now think otherwise. My instructor was brilliant and I have gained something.

    I have approached my work placement employer about him joining jobbridge so I can keep doing what I am doing to gain experience for another 9 months so I can then either get a job with them or find one elsewhere! You do get an additional 50 a week which at 200 extra a month could pay another bill.

    I am going to start an online course for a qualification I was about to pay for, and all for free :)

  2. Hi Gillian! Thank you for your post and congratulations on your new qualification :)!
    You're right. There are definitely plus sides to the whole thing and FAS with it's big selection of (free) courses being one of them.
    I don't approve of the idea of replacing formerly paid positions by so-called internships and FAS/JobBridge being an ideal platform for employers who want to cut down on staff costs (even to advertise with them is free).
    As well as that, some of the placements are only available to people on the dole. I know about the € 50 per week for travel expenses, but does that not apply for people on social welfare only? Do you have any information on that?

    1. The jobbridge scheme is NOT allowed to replace employees with free ones. It has to be a new position and they can't get rid of you and take someone else on right away. There is a 6 month cooling off period which hopefully stop employers doing this.

      I am not counted as unemployed and I am able to apply for jobbridge. But if you have been on a FAS course it counts as furthering your training anyway. Everyone who gets a position gets the €50 a week on top of what they would get on the dole.

      I am a very skeptical person and was upstairs with FAS asking all the ins and outs. If you are good at a job there is a very high chance you will be kept on. But when you change to a new career you do not have the work experience to get you noticed. Hopefully this scheme will help out with that.

      My Work placement place had never heard a word about it and I think they would like to keep me on. Hopefully I can impress them further while I gain good experience!