Transforming careers at Laois Partnership

IT was an inspiring and emotional presentation at the Laois Enterprise Centre last week as 11 participants spoke of how their lives had been transformed over the past few months at Operation Career Transformation.

IT was an inspiring and emotional presentation at the Laois Enterprise Centre last week as 11 participants spoke of how their lives had been transformed over the past few months at Operation Career Transformation.

Operation Career Transformation (OTC) is a pilot initiative run by Laois Partnership who brought John Fitzgerald and his team from Harmonics - Ireland’s leading career transformation specialists - to Laois for the 16 week programme which gave career management to unemployed professionals from around the county.

The programme was launched in February this year, and although there was huge interest from people around the county, only 12 participants were chosen. During that time, they received one to one coaching, financial support and career advice as well as completing a number of modules.

The aim of the course according to TV personality John Fitzgerald was to boost confidence in participants, giving them self esteem, self worth and giving them the ability to market themselves. John told the Leinster Express that “there is a huge need for this all over the country”. He said that this initiative was very hands on and was tailored to all participants’ needs.

The participants all spoke at Monday’s presentation and told the audience of their journey since they began the initiative. Marsha Byrne, who has a passion for computers said that she was made redundant in February after 14 years with the one company and was very scared at the start of the programme. She told the Harmonics staff that “you have changed my life. I have never spoken in public before and I am living proof this course works”.

Donegal native Alice Cahill said that after being self employed for a number of years, things took a downturn and she was left unemployed. “At the start of the course I was very confused, every road was long, daunting and scary”. Alice, who is now looking into doing parenting workshops, said that shes feels that now “the sky is the limit. There is light at the end of my tunnel and the last 16 weeks have been truly transformational”.

Gary Birchall who was previously a cabinet maker, told the group that he felt he had “no purpose”, after becoming unemployed after 14 years working. He said there was no options or jobs for him and he jumped at the chance to take part in the course. “During the course I asked myself tough questions and developed my own unique selling point”. Gary who made stunning hand crafted wooden clocks during the course said that “the next challenge starts tomorrow”, and that he is looking into doing courses in order to pursue his career.

Also speaking on the day was Michael Bergin, chairperson of Laois Partnership who first contacted John Fitzgerald, after seeing the programme ‘Rising After Redundancy’ on RTE one Sunday evening. He said that Laois Partnership are learning as they go along and completing an evaluation of the programme. The group hopes to roll out the programme again in the future. “It is a great pleasure to be part of this pilot project. It is about innovation and responding to problems,” he said. Visit www.laoispartnership.ie for more information.