A €4.075 million outdoor education programme’ designed to encourage young people from Ireland, Poland and Spain to return to studies or the labour market, was launched during NEF (New Education Forum) at Limerick Institute of Technology’s Thurles Campus.
This pioneering programme entitled FOLM (From Outdoors to Labour Market) is aimed at young people, aged between 18 and 29 years old, who are not in employment or education, and will be rolled out in the Mid West Region of Ireland in the coming weeks.
Funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants and Norway Grants for Youth Employment and co-ordinated by the Centre for Innovative Education, Poland, FOLM will be facilitated in Ireland by LIT, with research and monitoring support provided by Universal Learning Systems.
The programme will engage 990 young people from the Mid-West (Ireland), Warmia-Masuria (Poland), and Cantabria (Spain) over the next three years. As many as 330 of those young people will come from Tipperary, Limerick and Clare and engage with the programme through LIT.
The outdoor learning model blueprint was designed by the Venture Trust, who have implemented the programme in Scotland for more than ten years with positive results. The University of Edinburgh has produced a theoretical model based on Venture Trust’s programme which will be used for the FOLM project.
FOLM will be piloted in Tipperary this year, expanded into Limerick and Clare, and then other regions thereafter.
LIT is working in partnership with local development groups and youth services in the Mid West region to identify young people who may benefit from the project.
The participants will spend a week in the “wilderness”, namely the Knockmealdown Mountains, learning life skills, building resilience and developing a positive mental mind set.
On return from the outdoor learning, the participants will work with a coach who will help them to return to education, training or employment.
Seamus Hoyne, Development and Public Engagement Manager LIT and Manager responsible for the FOLM Project in Ireland said, “The FOLM Project uses Outdoor Learning as a means to engage youth with the community. Through the programme participants recognise their talents, strengthen soft skills, build self-esteem and self-awareness, and fortify attitudes for employment. Then the Project Consortium provides job matching through outreach to employers’ organisations, promotion, mentoring and trial employment.
“We at LIT believe this project will be hugely beneficial to young people who may otherwise struggle to access education or employment. It is a project that helps to bring out people’s strengths, allow them to discover their true abilities and find a place in the labour market that meets their needs and that of society in general.”
President of LIT Professor Vincent Cunnane said, “I am pleased that LIT is leading this programme in Ireland. The FOLM programme is a natural fit for LIT, an institution that holds inclusivity and access to education among its core values.
“In September the CSO figures indicated that almost 23,000 young people under 25 years old were on the Live Register nationally. Approximately 12% of these young people came from the Mid West Region.
“By opening up education, training and access to the labour market to more young people we can truly address these live register figures.”
The FOLM programme was officially launched at the New Education Forum (NEF) in LIT Thurles Campus. The event was attended by Polish MEP Ms. Rajewicz, the Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland, Ms. Else Berit Eikeland, and the many Irish stakeholders focused on education.