Twelve people from Galway city and county came together recently to participate in a community supported job seekers programme. Some had lost their homes due to the economic crises with each person having been unemployed for an average of 10 months. The common bond between the group was the hope of bettering their circumstances with the sole objective of finding jobs.
Individually they applied to join the '30 day career boost' programme' which was set up to raise awareness for vulnerable children in Africa as well as helping people getting back to work. Ranging in ages from early twenties to mid fifties, the group was representative of people in the community who have found themselves out of work.
One of the most important messages learned within the group was the difference of being a job seeker as opposed to being unemployed. The feedback from the group has been outstanding with some of the participants either having found work already or actively being in the process of finding work. Being made aware and encouraged to understand their own level of motivation, influences, and abilities were the driving forces behind the programme.
The programme was the brainchild of Seán Connaughton who lectures part time in the GMIT. Mr Connaughton explained that one of his students arranged for him to visit Africa last year with the experience turning out to significantly change his own way of thinking. Mr Connaughton discovered that the African educational system is based on a huge investment in education with the realistic hope that one student will make it in the world and return to make a difference to his community. Africans by nature are very loyal, humorous, open, resourceful and sharing, he commented. The 30-day career boost programme was inspired by this ethos so that the wider community in Galway and Ireland can also learn from the experiences and benefits of people helping themselves.
The group climbed Croagh Patrick with Tyrone football manager, Mickey Harte, visited an active Dáil Éireann session, went mountain trailing in Connemara, kayaking on Lough Corrib, indulged in bio energy sessions in Oranmore and learned the art and advantages of social networking to support their mission. They were also challenged three mornings per week across the thirty days in the Menlo Park Hotel with brain storming sessions, team building activities, and understanding the protocol of future employment expectations. The programme proved so successful that the group were able to offer each other individual feedback on their own strengths and challenges.
The programme also invited leaders within the community to hold mock interviews which proved to be extremely beneficial. Each individual was encouraged to hone in on their team work skills, approachability, work quality, accomplishments, initiative, technical skills, responsibility, communicating style, and they were shown how to elevate their decision making skills. Confidence with a surge in self belief became very apparent as the activities of the programme unfolded. People helping and supporting each other confidentially sealed the success of the programme for everybody involved, commented one participant.
Former Cllr Mary Leahy has been a strong supporter of the programme. Having met each of the participants at the start of the programme and then recently, she commented "30 days certainly makes people more mature and focused in their quest to find employment, it has been a fantastic and seriously beneficial programme and experience."
Councillor Ollie Crowe who took part in the mock interviews said that he was "thrilled to be part of this community initiative as well as learning something new in the process himself." Mr Connaughton explained that the human spirit can be stimulated through activity, advice, and encouragement as well as hope and being gently challenged. Once you have a sense of purpose you will reach your potential sooner rather than later, he said. People who actively participate in seeking employment by being open to change are 10 times more likely to secure a job than an individual who demonstrates a negative outlook, he explained. Mr Connaughton said that the expectation is that six out of the 12 participants will find work shortly. People have different levels of motivation with those being self motivated and open to change being the earlier winners, he said.
In thanking the supporters of the programme who gave of their time and resources freely and unconditionally, Seán Connaughton explained that the results and benefits of the programme will be transferred to a charity shortly in order to raise awareness and funds for vulnerable children in Zambia. Since returning from Africa, Mr Connaughton has raised in excess of €250K by successfully highlighting the plight of the children through targetted strategies and programmes. The benefits of this 30 day career boost programme will speak for themselves, he said. ”The fact that it was inspired by vulnerable children in Africa backed with a spirited community support in Galway, gives us all tangible hope for the future,” he added.