Sunday 19 November 2017

GAA to tackle unemployment with new scheme


THE GAA will launch a new initiative to provide work for at least 200 unemployed members tomorrow.

Under the Government's JobBridge scheme, a flagship project to create 5,000 intern places over five years, Croke Park is looking to get unemployed players, coaches and administrators into appropriate positions in the new year.

Director of Games Development and Research Pat Daly and the provincial councils have created structures that will culminate in out-of-work members being placed in a variety of roles.

Currently, there are in the region of 300 inter-county players unemployed and this scheme will see some of these -- and other members -- continue to receive unemployment benefit with an additional €50 paid by the Government. Successful applicants can earn at least an extra €200 per month and depending on what position they secure they could also gain additional income in vouched expenses and remuneration, with their prospects of full-time employment also enhanced.

The national scheme has already attracted negative attention, but the GAA's model commences at a difficult time, when counties are losing players on a weekly basis. In the first nine months of the year Cork have lost 86 club players, Tyrone 57, Tipperary 55, Limerick 54 and All-Ireland football champions Dublin have said goodbye to 49 players.

"We are offering quality positions and internships under our branch of the scheme," says Caoimhe Ni Neill of Croke Park's Games Development department.

"Some of the positions on offer include a sports therapist internship with the Monaghan County Board, the chance to work as a team administrative assistant with the Tipperary board and there's also a games development administrative position available with the Ulster Council. The programme will begin on a phased basis and the experience that can be gained from positions like these is invaluable and in some cases will lead to greater things."

Much of the criticism of the national scheme has come after certain companies were accused of exploitation. One extremely profitable shopping outlet, for instance, advertised for Christmas shelf-packers under the programme. Last month, the Department of Social Protection removed some postings on the JobBridge website because they failed to meet the required standard.

However, the GAA has ensured that only constructive positions are on offer and predetermined that county boards would compile lengthy job specifications of the duties interns will attend to. Each candidate will have a supervisor and mentor advising them.

"We are well aware that the general scheme has its critics and we have actually taken on board a lot of those criticisms to ensure that our GAA programme is different because of the quality of positions on offer," added Ms Ni Neill.

"A lot of thought and planning has gone into this scheme -- we are looking at games development and administration as two areas that will attract most interest. Positions like IT, communications and marketing roles with the Leinster Council or project co-ordinator at WIT offer graduates and others top-class experience. We fully stand by what we are trying to do."

A new website,, which has been established to provide details of the scheme, goes live tomorrow.

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