A jobs initiative that helped an unemployed accountant, who was one-time chief executive of the classified ads website Buy and Sell, to find his way back from the recession is offering up to 6,500 free training and education places to long-term unemployed.
Dublin-based Rory Finegan is among those who participated in the first round of Momentum, a government programme that aims to assist unemployed job-seekers to gain in-demand skills and to access work in sectors of the economy where there are job opportunities.
Despite his qualification and experience, much of it as a financial controller, Mr Finegan, who is in his 40s, could not find a suitable role.
"There were jobs for more junior people, but for senior people there was not much going on," he said. With two young children, he didn't favour the emigration option.
Mr Finegan tried to set himself up in business from home but found it difficult to watch neighbours leaving for work every morning and said, "there was no separation from household chores. I didn't have the necessary structure or encouragement."
In February 2013, he joined a Momentum start-your-own business course, and now his business, Finegan Accountants.ie, is up and running, backed by all the new technologies that he learned about on the course.
The second round of Momentum is supported by a €20m fund, and places are available on 250 courses across the country, with work experience included.
The courses are in areas of expanding employment such as information and communications technology (ICT); tourism, including coach driving with guiding; early childhood care and education; business studies; building; and distribution and logistics.
One-third of places have been ring-fenced for the under-25s and almost 1,000 job-seekers are already listed for courses.
Tanaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton and Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan were among those at the launch of Momentum at the offices of Solas, the state training authority.
Ms Burton said such initiatives were crucial in helping jobseekers to acquire the necessary skills for the workplace.