European Social Fund (ESF) case study - Workforce Training (Get Connected)

Get Connected is a programme provided by Workforce Training Services that targets young people aged 16-24 who are deemed NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and would like to enhance their employment opportunities. The project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund 2014 - 2020 and the Department for the Economy.

Dynika McCotter’s story

Dynika joined the Get Connected programme in June 2018 after completing school. This was a big step for her as she had a number of barriers to learning, including Global Developmental Delay and epilepsy. These barriers made it difficult for Dynika to adapt to new situations and she was concerned about joining. However, following a lot of meetings with Dynika and her parents, she decided to give it a go.

Dynika McCotter
Dynika McCotter

At the beginning, Dynika needed a lot of reassurance and support from staff, but as time went on and she made new friends she became more confident and excelled on the programme. Her attendance and punctuality was excellent and she always gave 100%, joining in every session.

Dynika went on to secure a place on the Training for Success (TfS) programme studying childcare.

She says:

“Without the help of the Get Connected programme I would never have had the belief or confidence in myself to apply for a full time training course. It gave me the opportunity to get to know the staff at Workforce before I started my childcare. I have made a lot of new friends and I love my placement.”

Her childcare tutor says she is now making excellent progress on the TfS programme. She has secured a placement in a nursery, which she enjoys very much.

Dynika hopes to complete her Level 2 childcare and progress onto the Apprenticeship programme to complete level 3.

Meidhbhe Emmett’s story

Meidhbhe went to Beechlawn School which caters for pupils with Additional Educational Needs. After she left school at the end of fifth year, aged 16, Meidhbhe joined the Get Connected programme. 

Meidhbhe Emmett
Meidhbhe Emmett

She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life but was certain school was not the place for her, as she had too many bad experiences which led to poor attendance and she often found herself in trouble with teaching staff. Meidhbhe was interested in Get Connected as it provided the opportunity to explore various job areas that Workforce had to offer and she was also keen to make friends and have something to do over the summer months.

Meidhbhe had some barriers to learning including dyslexia, very low self-esteem and little confidence in her abilities. She fully engaged in the mentoring support and has made significant progress in overcoming these obstacles which is clear for all to see, but more importantly she sees the changes in herself, which is a major boost for her self-esteem and confidence.

Progress to date includes being a participant on the Training for Success programme and securing a placement which she has remained at from day one.  Meidhbhe has also been successful in gaining a part-time job with her placement provider, who is extremely happy with her commitment and dedication. She has gained excellent transferable skills such as good social skills, interaction and engagement, organisational skills and a great work ethic.

Meidhbhe’s mentor takes great pleasure in speaking of her achievements: “From such a shy, withdrawn, timid young girl, to flourishing into a happy, smiley, confident team player, with so much more to give as she grows!  An absolute pleasure to work with.”

When asked about the Get Connected programme Meidhbhe said:

 “It was so enjoyable in the beginning getting to know new people and doing the team building activities.  I look back at the year and see how it has helped build my confidence and give me better social skills.  I find it really easy to talk to people more”.

Meidhbhe’s hopes for the future are

“to become a fully qualified hairdresser and own a salon of my own one day”.

Morgan Perry’s story

After hearing about Get Connected at an event in his school, Morgan was keen to join, so once he had completed school, he started the programme in June 2018. 

Morgan Perry
Morgan Perry

Morgan is a very social young man but does have some barriers to learning. He suffers from ADHD and has a mild learning difficulty.

Morgan makes friends easily and he quickly settled in well on the programme. He made an excellent effort to attend and always gave 100% in every session.

He originally secured a place on the Training for Success programme to study catering, however after a few weeks he decided that catering wasn’t for him and switched to joinery. He is now progressing very well in this area and has recently secured a placement.

Through the job coaching provided by the mentors on the Get Connected programme, Morgan has secured part time work in McDonalds.

He says,

“I am very grateful for the support I received from the mentors on the Get Connected programme. They helped me to complete my application form for my job and went through interview skills with me. I really enjoyed the programme. I have made some great friends and I am looking forward to becoming a qualified joiner.”

Morgan hopes to complete his level 2 joinery, then progress onto an apprenticeship. Once he is fully qualified he hopes to travel the world working as a joiner. 

Padraig Goodman’s story

Padraig attended St Gerard’s School and Support Services which caters for pupils that have a Statement of Special Educational Need, completing all seven years of secondary education.

Padraig Goodman
Padraig Goodman
Padraig has Moderate Learning Difficulty (MLD) and feels he didn’t gain any qualifications due to his inability to properly read and write, and explains he struggled greatly trying to progress at the same pace as others in his class. This left him feeling frustrated, self-conscious and like he was “no good, so what was the point in trying”.

Padraig joined the Get Connected programme after he left school at the age of 18. He was very quiet and lacked confidence in himself. Reading, writing and self-confidence were major obstacles for him. He noticeably tried to blend into the background of the groups, hoping he wouldn’t be asked to do anything for fear of not knowing.

Over the summer months, Padraig’s behaviour changed. He got involved in all aspects of the programme - going on activities, taking part in personal development and employability classes and sampling various job areas, including catering. He never missed a day of the programme, made lots of new friends and didn’t shy away in the background anymore.

Padraig really enjoyed the catering and after attending a few sampling days, he decided he would enjoy doing this full time. He has now completed almost 11 months on the Training for Success Catering Programme and is thriving. Padraig is successfully flourishing in his placement at New Life Church and has been given part-time work there as a reward for being such a hard worker. His confidence has greatly improved and although he has barriers to learning, he still attends classes and tries his best.

When asked about the Get Connected programme Padraig states,

“It’s really good, it helped me a lot.  You meet new people and go to places you would never dream of getting to.  It has totally improved my confidence!” 

His goals for the future are to be fully qualified with a full time job and “maybe one day have my own restaurant”.




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