The President of the Workers Party, Michael Finnegan, has said that the rebranding of the national training and employment agency Fás as SOLAS would be meaningless to the unemployed and those seeking to improve their work prospects unless there was a fundamental change in emphasis and a real commitment to job creation.
Mr. Finnegan said one only had to look at the Fás website today and see that two-thirds of the positions on offer consist of unpaid work placements, CE schemes and the recently launched Internship placements. Unless a real job-creation programme was put in place, the new agency would merely be a sticking-plaster to cover up mass unemployment, he said.
“This is not the first time the state training and employment agency has been rebranded”, said Mr. Finnegan. “In the 1980s there were two separate agencies known as AnCo and National Manpower which were merged to become Fás but there was no fundamental change. It was merely a change of the signs over the door and the corporate stationery. The same will happen with the new agency SOLAS and the rebranding will convince nobody unless real change is seen to be taking place”.
“While an increased role for the VECs in the training element of the new agency is to be welcomed, it takes place against a contraction in the number of VECs and without any specific commitment to funding for them which has been cut in recent years”
“What is needed is not a name-change for Fás, but a commitment to the creation of real jobs with proper pay and conditions, real training based on sound principles, and a thorough shake-up at the top which will ensure that sleaze such as that exposed some years ago can never occur again through transparency and accountability at all levels in the organisation. We shall wait and see if SOLAS lives up to this but the omens are not good from a government which has, in its first six months, been found to be venal, dismissive and dishonest”, said the Workers’ Party President.
Issued 27th July 2011