Meet Ann O’Mara – Community Employment Supervisor

25 Sep
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Ann O’Mara has been working in the field of community employment for about 12 years. Prior to that she worked in the area of administration for various sectors. Her main role here at Tait House is focused primarily on training as well as carrying out all the community employment needs particularly in the procurement of training for the organization and co-ordinating the team. She liaises with agencies that provide the trainer, acquiring trainers, getting feedback from participants as to what type of training they want, and then organizing it to suit them.

The Community Employment (CE) programme is designed to help people who are long-term unemployed (or otherwise disadvantaged) to get back to work by offering part-time and temporary placements in jobs based within local communities. Within these structures social enterprises provide meaningful work experience opportunities alongside relevant training that is devised via an individual learning plan that is completed with each participant.

“Every participant coming to us would have an individual learning plan developed for them. We would sit down with them meet with them and identify their needs”, Ann says. “Some might come to us with a specific skill and we will help them to develop these skills to a level that boosts employability”.

“One example I would give is a man who was working as a maintenance worker. He had a real desire to learn how to operate a drone. As a result, we had to help him get an aviation license. And we got it for him. So that was part of his specific individual plan”.

The programme is sponsored by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social protection. People are either referred to Tait House or vacancies are advertised here for all the relevant job roles. 

There are certain eligibility criteria that people need to have to get on a community employment scheme. Mostly these criteria need people to be unemployed for over a year or being in receipt of a social welfare payment.

“They will be referred by their case worker to ourselves, we would get their names and we will contact them, interview them, see which role is suitable for them”, Ann says.

“There’s no relevant experience to work here because training is provided for every position that you take. At present we offer work experience and training from our ground works to estate management works, to driving for the food delivery, Meals on Wheels, and to the schools as well”.

“There’s a training budget provided. So, some of that training budget might go on relevant training for the job. If you need particular training for your role, it could come out of your training budget. We provide specific supports for you from course planning and/or we can arrange specific development needs.

We are currently running a horticulture program at the which is a full accredited course in horticulture level four. This incorporates about nine modules and started last November. Hopefully, all participants will have got their major awards by that time”.

This course includes everything from plant ID to growing fruit, to safe horticulture practice and growing vegetables. The course also includes work experience and offers the opportunity to progress.

“We have already had one participant who actually left and went straight through to do horticulture level five in Pallaskenry College. We have a polytunnel on site where the team have grown their own potatoes, onions, peppers etc. They are being trained in the No Dig system. We organise off-site visits and recently collected seaweed in Lahinch. They are visiting an orchard next week as part of their fruit growing module”.

They also have had a little mini market where they sold a few bits here and also ran a coffee morning for Milford Hospice, where they sold a lot of their produce and raised a lot of money. That was part of their kind of team building module.

“The role I do has a huge amount of job satisfaction. I love to see people progress relative to where they’re at the beginning. A personal development course is massive for them. Watching them develop their self-confidence, seeing them get them back into timekeeping, and getting them to realize they have a value to offer is so rewarding”.

“I remember one participant who came to me having been unemployed for years. Her husband had passed away and she needed to back into the workforce for the first time in many years. When I spoke to her she believed that they had no skills to offer. She had never worked, and didn’t believe that she had anything to offer the community employment scheme.

“As we discussed her individual learner plan, I discovered that for over 20 years, she managed a community initiative which involved her booking the tickets, booking all the hotels, flights, saving all the money in the credit union and so on. She done absolutely everything to plan out this community initiative every year for 20 years. I told her that there were people paid very good money to do exactly what she had done – project manage!!!”

“She never saw it as a skill. This realisation was massive for her. That is what my role as employment supervisor does – getting people to realize that the skills they have from everyday life are actual skills that can be developed further. It’s about making them realize that they have skills to offer and to build on them.

I would urge anybody who has found themselves to be unemployed to consider getting in touch with us here at Tait House. The first step is to see are they eligible. People are always scared to come back into employment. But the community employment scheme in particular, offers people a supportive environment to get back into a way of work”.

You can contact Ann directly at Tait House by email at aomara@taithouse.ie or by calling 061415340

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