Conor Hogan reports
By March of this year, there were 4,680 women on the live register in Mayo, up from 3,315 two years earlier.
In fact, Mayo has the highest rural unemployment rate in the country with CSO figures showing the rate among women in the county has risen by over 40% in the last two years.
“Many small businesses are making attempts at rationalising cuts,” Breda Murray of South West Mayo Development Company’s (SWMDC) told us, “and secretaries seem to be the first people they will lay off.”
This led the SWMDC to join up with Tacu Family Resource Centre (FRC) in Ballinrobe and Claremorris FRC to provide a support programme called ‘Revival’. It has been run twice, so far, and could become a blueprint for a national strategy if the course leaders make a successful case.
The aim is to improve people’s educational qualifications, as well as helping them to develop social skills – making a return to the labour market that bit easier.
It isn’t just women on the live register that are eligible, however, but the underemployed and unregistered too. Each woman on the course works one-on-one with a mentor who themselves is unpaid and values gaining experience.
“We hoped to get 30 people on the course," Ms Murray told us, "but had to accommodate nine more.”