Thursday 17 October 2019

Noonan's staff get mindful and taxpayers pick up training bill

'By 'sustainable', the Finance Minister presumably means the debt is manageable and the country can afford the repayments this year'
'By 'sustainable', the Finance Minister presumably means the debt is manageable and the country can afford the repayments this year'

Emma Jane Hade

Dozens of staff within Finance Minister Michael Noonan's department have participated in meditation and stress-management classes to help deal with the pressure.

The department also spent thousands between last September and June to ensure that we "up our game in Europe".

Almost €250,000 was spent on third-level courses, training, developmental and leadership programmes during the most recent academic year.

Thirty employees based in Tullamore recently completed six sessions of a 'Mindfulness Lunch and Learn event'.

A spokesperson confirmed that the meditation course, which was supplied by the Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board, was delivered to staff as part of their 'Lunch and Learn Initiative' at a cost of €588 through the 'Dignity at Work Initiative'.

Thirty-six staff from the Dublin and Offaly offices also undertook stress-management training at lunchtime events with the Civil Service Employee Assistance Service (CSEAS).

As part of the department's strategy to "up our game in Europe", 20 staff members underwent EU negotiation training.

This training was delivered for €3,400, in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs, for those who represent Minister Noonan's department in the EU.

Some of the other courses undertaken included time-management (€175), media-skills training (€700) for two press office staff, and a minute-taking course (€960).

Those who were eager to improve on their academic skills were also accommodated and the documents released to Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath show that the Department of Finance refunded almost €6,300 to an individual who is completing their 'Barrister at Law' training.

A spokesperson said this award from Kings Inn would "further professionalise the qualifications of those held in the department".

Linguistic skills were also a top priority and seven staff members brushed up on their knowledge of Spanish, Irish and French.

Mr Noonan said that the department was striving to "be the best we can" and he defended this spending.

"The department's Learning and Development Strategy 2014-2016 introduces the department's model of learning, which utilises the 70:20:10 approach.

"This emphasises that the majority of the learning undertaken is on the job learning/coaching and that only a small percentage of the learning comes from formalised courses or programmes, 10pc," said the Finance Minister.

Deputy McGrath, Fianna Fáil's spokesperson on finance, said that "on the face of it" the cost of training courses appeared to be "quite high" and needed to be justified by the Department of Finance.

Irish Independent

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