If you’ve recently been made unemployed or are having trouble finding a job it can be all too easy to get stuck in a rut with your old pals Ricki, Oprah and Ellen. But now is not the time to rest on your laurels, instead why not see your unemployed state as an opportunity rather than a prison sentence.
Back to school
For most people the prospect of going back to school or college after a long absence can be very scary. But returning to education doesn’t always mean you have to attend classes from 9am to 4pm, five days a week. Re-training and upskilling is of benefit of any jobseeker, and always looks good on your CV during a period of unemployment; and while there may be financial constraints to re-training, it doesn’t have to mean you sacrifice your unemployment benefits. The recently announced Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) offers part-time further education programmes for adults and young people on the live register. If you are signing for unemployment ‘credits’ only, you are eligible to apply for a wide range of courses under the scheme. From second level options (Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate, Post Leaving Certificate, City and Guilds Certificate, or National Diploma), to third level (a course at any university, third level college or institution as long as it meets the criteria set out by the Department of Education and Science), or a postgraduate course (as long as it leads to a Higher Diploma (H. Dip.) qualification in any discipline, or a postgraduate course that leads to a Diploma in Education.)
Alternatively, why not pop into your local FБS office or check them out online at www.fas.ie. FБS has recently increased the range of training options available to job seekers so there is literally something for everybody, of all ages and skill levels. From apprenticeships and specific skills training to short evening courses and online courses there are plenty of options available to keep you occupied and boost your CV.
Starting your own business
If you have a good idea and possess that entrepreneurial spark, why not use your unemployment as an opportunity to start-up your own business. While it’s a big step and will mean a lot of hard work and a major life change, there is plenty of support out there for people with the initiative.
Enterprise Ireland should be your first port of call for information and financial support. Enterprise Ireland offers the ‘Innovative High Potential Start-Up offer’ providing a financial contribution towards the company’s business plan to develop products, services or processes which are technologically new or substantially improved when compared to others in the industry. County Enterprise Board and you local chamber of commerce should also be able to provide you with assistance to get your business off the ground.
If another day of trawling the jobs websites and newspapers is getting you down, why not get involved with some voluntary work in your community or further afield. Voluntary work can be anything from being a good neighbour, to working with charities or other non-profit organisations in the third world. Volunteer work offers great flexibility as you can volunteer for as long and as often as suits you own schedule. Registered unemployed people can do certain forms of voluntary work without losing their benefits, provided they clear it with their local social welfare office before beginning.
There is also a great sense of personal achievement from participating in charity or volunteer work, and you are bound to impress prospective employers with your self-motivation and social conscious.
Why not combine your charity work with some travel? Organisations such as Concern, Habitat for Humanity and VSO are always looking for volunteers. VSO in particular, recruits volunteers with professional skills and expertise and places them in disadvantage communities in the third world. The experience will allow you to gain some hands on experience and develop new skills, while helping those who need it most.
So while the dole queue may be a scary place, particularly for those of us who have been brought up in the affluent years of the Celtic Tiger, there’s no reason why it has to rule your life. Spend a bit of time assessing you options, then get out there and make a difference.
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