The Government is sitting on a multi-million euro unspent resource in the National Training Fund (NTF) while hundreds of thousands of job seekers are looking for work, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs Dara Calleary.

Figures revealed to Deputy Calleary through Parliamentary Questions show that there was an unspent resource of €155m in the NTF at the beginning of this year. According to the Department of Education, which manages the fund, this is likely to stand at just under €117m at the end of the year.

“This money needs to be invested in valuable training opportunities for those seeking work. It makes no sense to sit on such a significant unspent resource when we have 400,000 people on the Live Register who are looking for opportunities,” said Deputy Calleary.

“The NTF was set up in the year 2000 to fund training programmes for job seekers. It ran a surplus during the boom years when the numbers on the Live Register were low – the idea being that this funding would be carried over for a time when more investment is needed. Now is that time. Now more than ever, we need to invest in programmes that will help take people off the Live Register through retraining and up-skilling.

“For instance, the Restaurants Association of Ireland has pointed to a significant void in the number of trained chefs in this country. They are seeking training opportunities for chefs at a cost of less than €1m. Right now, just a fraction of the millions sitting unused in the NTF could be spent on establishing a chef training programme. I have no doubt that there are many jobseekers and school leavers who would like to train in this area and take up the many opportunities that exist within the sector.

“There is no use in letting this valuable funding sit there unused, while obvious opportunities exist to help people into employment. I am calling on the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton to invest the surplus in creating opportunities that will benefit job seekers and employers.”