Friday, May 13, 2016

The Community Sector in Ireland - THE VIEW FROM THE STARTING BLOCK


- HOW OPTIMISTIC ARE YOU ABOUT FINDING WORK IN THE COMMUNITY SECTOR?


BY ALLEN MEAGHER

As folk who’ve been working in the Community & Voluntary Sector since the early 1990s begin to retire, we asked five up and coming community workers how optimistic they were about finding work and where their passions lay. Silvia, Luke and Donna are engaged in a Postgraduate Diploma in Co-operative Organisation, Food Marketing and Rural Development. Lesley is studying for a Masters in Youth Work with Community Arts and Sports Studies. All are students of UCC.

All are counting on not just a qualification but also highly rate voluntary experience to help them find paid work.

Lesley - you make your own opportunities.
Lesley O’Sullivan - Cork
I love this area of work, I really enjoy working with young people.
While there are more jobs in Dublin than in Cork, there are more possibilities now through Erasmus Plus and other European funding mechanisms. I come from an arts background and I’ve learned you make your own opportunities.
I work sometimes with East Cork Music Project, connecting with young people by maker education, which mixes art and technology. I also work with the Youth Advocate Programme (which supports vulnerable families and young people).
I went to college because I wanted to get more skills and get a proper qualification. For instance, we’ve learned how to use development education and creative methodologies in our work. Ideally, after my Masters, I would like to start my own project – a ‘Maker-Space’ for young people. Look it up!

Silvia wants to work in community development.

Silvia Amador - Nicaragua
I want to work in community development. I’ve done it and I want to keep on doing it. What excites me is – and this might sound a little clichéd – I can gain professional development and at the same time personal satisfaction, while being paid for it, and I’m helping to improve other people’s lives. That’s really a motivation for me.
It’s a very competitive area. (Employers) mostly require people with years of experience. So, that’s the reason I’m doing this Masters, so I can combine my work and experience with a good title. 
Luke - You need to get paid.
Luke Casey- Kilkenny
To break into the Sector, you need a certain level of experience so I would be willing to do voluntary work again, but not for as long as in the past. I did it for a year before.
Some of the lecturers are saying there are more opportunities coming up, but nothing is concrete. I’m finding it hard to see past all the voluntary work. You need to get paid.
My background is doing community work in developing countries. I’m also interested in working with credit unions, helping them to make more of a connection through social media with young people in particular.
Stefanie - very fulfilling work.
Stefanie Debuck - Belgium
It’s a challenging sector, but it’s very fulfilling work. I was volunteering for a year and more and I did an internship in Cuba and Guatemala. Let’s see how it goes. I was more focused on NGOs before and now I’m more focused on social enterprise.
I would love to set up with others a co-op or social enterprise, especially related to food and agriculture.
Donna - Rural areas have so much to offer.
Donna Cleary - West Cork
My interest is in working with rural communities and promoting rural areas in terms of food, regional branding, tourism, eco-tourism, hopefully working in the LEADER programme. Rural areas are dying and they have so much to offer, but we need to get the momentum going.
I’ve absolute confidence I’ll find work. I have to have. If you really want it, you go after it and if that means having to volunteer for a time, that’s fine. The economy is picking up and we need more promotion of rural areas and I feel there will be jobs in that sector.

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