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File photo from September 2011 of the empty TalkTalk call centre in Waterford. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Government submits EU funding application for TalkTalk workers

Junior minister Ciarán Cannon says the funding will facilitate a range of new training courses for the hundreds made redundant from the call centre in October.

JUNIOR MINISTER Ciarán Cannon has announced that the government has submitted its application for EU funding for the workers who were laid off at the TalkTalk facility in Waterford last year.

The Department of Training and Skills applied for funding from the European Globalisation Fund (EGF) for the almost 600 redundant workers. The fund provides finance for retraining staff who have been made redundant as a result of globalisation.

The department said today that the application concerns €5.4 million-worth of interventions, of which the EU will fund half and the government will fund half from exchequer payments and the National Training Fund.

Pending EU approval, the programme will run for two years until the end of February 2014 and it will offer FÁS, VEC and Waterford Institute of Technology training courses as well as training grants for studying at private colleges and other training organisations.

Funding could also be made available to cover the costs of taking up these courses such as travel expenses and course materials.

Minister for State Ciarán Cannon said today that the application was lodged yesterday, but warned that the approval process is “a complex and time consuming one in procedural terms”. Worker representatives, local service providers and Waterford City manager were all involved in the application process, the junior minister added.

Cannon said that EGF funding “is a very welcome and practice assistance towards improving the employability of redundant workers and keeping them close to the labour market”, adding that his department had already undertaken a review of other EGF programmes to act on the “core costs that effectively prevent greater take-up of the EGF interventions”.

The department says that the coordination of the EFG for former TalkTalk workers will be provided by the same unit which worked on the Dell programme and three ongoing construction programmes. That unit is working with the Department of Social Protection and has an office in Waterford City which will be open for walk-in referrals from 12 March.

The department also says that all eligible redundant workers will be contacted in writing individually from 9 March outlining the types of services currently available to them. In the meantime, the unit will be operating a freephone line 1800 303 550.

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