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29th Jan 2013

Older Workers Scheme Brings Almost 60 Jobs

Claire Craig

ALMOST 60 jobs have been created thanks to a new scheme to get older people back into employment.

The £6m employment initiative Step Ahead 50+ aims to support 1,100 unemployed people aged 50 or over into work over the next three years.

Step Ahead 50+ which has been funded by the Executive as part of its Jobs and Economy Initiative, is a new strand of the Department of Employment and Learning's main adult return to work programme, Steps to Work.

The Department's Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, said: “The current economic climate has made the move from benefits into sustainable employment even more difficult for those who have no recent work history and who are aged 50 or over. I am committed to improving the employability of our older people.”

The scheme, available across Northern Ireland, will provide fixed-term paid employment opportunities within the Voluntary and Community sector lasting up to 26 weeks. This will provide participants with real job experience and recent employment history.

During this time participants will be encouraged to undertake skills training to assist with their transition into employment and help them compete for jobs more effectively.

The programme is aimed at those who have been unemployed and claiming benefit for 12 months or more.

The Minister concluded: “The programme is now up and running and there are almost 60 job vacancies already available. Step Ahead 50+ aims to contribute to the Executive’s economic policy by building the skills base of our unemployed to prepare them for the jobs that will rebuild and rebalance the economy. It will also ensure that skills development for economic growth is being supported.”

Meanwhile, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has announced that leading international law firm Allen & Overy is to create up to 67 new high quality jobs in Belfast.

The investment is being supported by Invest Northern Ireland, which has offered assistance of £348,400.

The new jobs will be located at its existing Support and Legal Services Centre in Belfast which supports the delivery of legal services to the firm's global clients.

Announcing the investment the Minister said: “This investment, which will create up to 67 new positions, is welcome and positive news for our economy and the legal services sector.

“Having located here in 2011, Allen & Overy has rapidly grown its presence and is already well ahead of its recruitment schedule with 300 people employed across a range of support and legal functions. The fact that this international firm plans to expand so soon after its initial investment clearly indicates that Northern Ireland has more than delivered in terms of skills, cost competitiveness and infrastructure.”

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