Second group of OWL trainees graduate from Oireachtas Work Learning (OWL) programme

by Gazette Reporter
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by Alex Greaney

The second group in the ground-breaking Oireachtas Work Learning (OWL) programme, graduated Wednesday last week (06/07), at an awards ceremony in Leinster House. 

The Oireachtas Work Learning (OWL) Programme is an applied learning, development, and socialisation programme specifically tailored towards young adults with an intellectual disability. The Programme was first launched by the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD in September 2018 as a pilot programme. The Houses of the Oireachtas is the first Parliament in the world to host a programme of its kind.

The outcome of the programme is to support OWL graduates to find meaningful and viable part-time permanent employment in the wider Civil and Public Service through the OWL Graduate Programme. Seven of this year’s graduates have already secured part-time employment following their participation in the programme; six across Government Departments and Offices and one in the private sector. Plans are underway to commence the next training programme in September 2022. 

During their time in Leinster House, the ten current programme trainees were placed across different offices in-house and in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media where they gained valuable work experience in multiple areas. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the trainees engaged in remote working tasks where they gained valuable experience in a blended working setting.  

Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD said: “Inclusive work programmes and opportunities are vital if we are to harness the talent of people from all sections of society and a diverse workplace benefits us all. The OWL Programme is now considered the first Supported Employment Model in the Civil and Public Service and I know the partners will continue to collaborate to expand and develop it to provide people with intellectual disabilities with public service jobs”.

The programme maximises the opportunity for the trainees to experience several areas of work learning in units in the Oireachtas Service and to undertake formalised training through the Dublin City Education and Training Board for the purpose of achieving a Level 3 Quality and Qualification Ireland (QQI) qualification.

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