A new networking forum for unemployed professionals and entrepreneurs has been launched by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton.
WIN – West of Ireland Networking - is a volunteer organisation that hopes to play a substantial role in getting unemployed participants back into the work place while providing further supports to those seeking to start their own business or already running a small enterprise.
Speaking at the launch at the Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway. Minister Bruton said WIN was an excellent example of what people and communities could do to help people get back to work and to help entrepreneurs start the successful businesses Ireland needed.
“Jobs are at the very top of this Government’s agenda,” he said, “and I am determined to do everything possible to achieve the job-creation we so badly need. Government does not create jobs, people and businesses do, and the role of government is to support an environment in which job-creating entrepreneurs and businesses can flourish.
“ The get-up-and-go, self-help spirit embodied by this organisation is exactly what we need to help turn our fortunes around, and I am delighted to see it is alive and well. I am determined that the Government will keep its side of the bargain and do everything it can to get people back to work.”
With unemployment at 14.4 per cent, WIN is currently assisting one third of participants re-engage in the workforce.
“Its success is based on its innovative approach to helping the unemployed through consistent and regular supports including: bi-weekly group networking sessions including relevant and flexible training programmes; one to one mentoring, building confidence and self esteem of participants,” said CEO and founder Caroline McDonagh.
Recent survey sampling 106 participants of WIN indicated the impact of the organisation with 34 per cent reengaging in the workplace; 14 per cent actively interviewing; 28 per cent working on potential business start-up; and 24 pr cent new participants, she said.
“We at WIN are very excited about the contribution we have made to getting people back to work and supporting start up enterprises. WIN is a lean organisation working with minimum resources with a strong commitment to value and committed to addressing previously unmet needs.
”To date there has been a lack of support, training and services for the ‘unexpected unemployed’ or the ‘new unemployed’ in Ireland and WIN has successfully filled this gap. WIN recognises that if these skills are lost to Ireland, they could be gone forever,” she said.
NUI Galway president, Dr James Browne, said he was delighted to host the formal launch of WIN on the campus.
“The spirit of partnership, volunteerism and enterprise embodied by this unique, innovative volunteer organisation is exactly what Ireland needs more of at this time. We at NUI Galway are pleased to support WIN’s objectives of training, mentoring and networking for unemployed work seekers, entrepreneurs and small enterprise owners. Our support is an example of how the university partners local organisations to ensure we meet the legitimate demands of all the stakeholders in our region.”
WIN board members include: Seamus Bree, director of Western Region Enterprise Ireland; Breda Fox, CEO of Galway County and City Enterprise Board; PJ O’Reilly, regional manager of Technology Transfer and R&D, Enterprise Ireland; Dr Emer Mulligan, head of JE Cairnes School of Business & Economics, NUI Galway; John Liddy of St Vincent De Paul; Caroline McDonagh, CEO of WIN ; Majella Connelly, financial consultant at Hennelly Insurance; Gert O’Rourke, owner of Gert O'Rourke Training and Development; and Ralph Smith, managing director of Do My Books.