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Unemployed to work for free under new scheme

Unemployed teachers and non-teachers could work for up to nine months for their dole payments under a new scheme.

Image: Craig via Flickr

THE MINISTER FOR Education Mary Coughlan yesterday approved a FÁS scheme which would allow schools to take on teachers who are currently receiving social welfare for free.

According to a statement from the Department of Education, under the scheme teachers and teaching assistants would continue to receive their social welfare benefits, while working within a school for up to 40 hours a week for nine months.

The Work Placement Programme to Schools would be open to teaching graduates, non-teaching graduates and non-graduates.

A spokesperson for the Táinste told TheJournal.ie that the scheme would be offered on a voluntary basis, and insisted social welfare recipients would not be obliged to participate.

Sean Perry said that there would be “no material reward” for those participating in the scheme and that they would not receive PRSI stamps. However, he explained that applicants would gain experience and strengthen their employment prospects through the programme.

He added that unqualified persons would not be permitted to teach, and said that placements would be offered for non-teaching roles such as secretarial or care-taking positions. For non-teaching graduates who wish to gain experience of teaching, an opportunity to work alongside a teacher would be available, he said.

Schools would be permitted to open work placements for up to 10 people, and should not be used to replace staff members of fill vacant posts,  Perry said.

Garda vetting of all applicants would be required.

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However, the Irish National Teacher’s Organisation disputed the Tánaiste’s claim that the programme was “a major initiative” to help and support the unemployed, adding that the scheme offered no prospects to teachers. Peter Mullan told TheJournal.ie that Couglan’s claim the scheme would assist the unemployed was “disingenuous”:

“It is not a platform to real employment,” he said, “Already unemployed teachers have seen job prospects reduced, planned reductions in salary and disimprovements in pensions. They are under huge pressure on the employment front – being told they can work for nothing does not improve their situation one bit.”

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