More than 1,200 people with disabilities supported to find jobs through innovative training provider.

Some 1,223 people with disabilities have been supported into employment in the last three years by Ireland’s largest non-governmental education and training organisation- National Learning Network.

Since 2017, a further 2,500 people with disabilities, mental health difficulty or challenging life circumstances have been supported to move onto further training education opportunities. A total of 800 of whom have progressed onto higher level training and education courses including third level colleges and universities.

Those who were supported to find employment through NLN, and who may otherwise have remained reliant on social welfare payments, have contributed in the region of €750,000 to the State as a result of securing employment.  It also means that the Exchequer has saved in the region of €1million annually in reduced expenditure on social welfare benefits.

The figures were released today as National Learning Network launched its inaugural National Open Day, which will be held on April 1st at 11am and will see more than 30 centres across the country open their doors to the public.

NLN, which is the education and training division of Rehab Group- provides a range of flexible training courses for people with extra support needs. It is the largest private provider of personalised education, training and employment services in Ireland.

The certified training courses, which offer nationally recognised qualifications including QQI, ECDL, and City and Guilds, have impacted significantly on the progression of people with a disability and/or health conditions into employment and have seen some participants land jobs in companies such as Ryanair and Facebook.

This innovative organisation is also supporting 140 people with complex and enduring mental health issues through a new programme launched last year called Individual Placement and Support (IPS).  IPS helps people to obtain employment in mainstream competitive jobs.  A total of 40 people who participated in the IPS programme with NLN in 2019 are now in employment.

Alan Donnellan, 42 from Navan, Co Meath completed a Fresh Start course followed by an IT and Office Skills course at NLN in Navan in 2019. He now works full time as a Disability Support Worker.

‘I developed depression when I was 14-years-old and by 15 I was hospitalised with my first breakdown and taken out of school. For the next 25 years I worked different jobs and just kept my head down but still suffered from crippling anxiety. When I was hospitalised for six weeks in 2016, I knew something had to change. I decided to give NLN and the Fresh Start course a try because that’s exactly what I was trying to achieve for myself – a fresh start.”

“It wasn’t until my first week at NLN I discovered I had dyslexia. I realised that going undiagnosed was one of the main drivers behind my depression all of those years. This was a huge weight off of my shoulders. I realised I had been hiding my issues with writing and reading.”

Alan is now employed as a Direct Support Worker, in a residential care setting.

 ““I am a very strong member of the team. I love the job. Every day I get an opportunity to make a difference, and that’s an amazing feeling. When I look back now over the last 25 years, I realise hiding my dyslexia was the cause of my anxiety which lead to depression and destroyed my confidence. NLN is about giving people opportunities that they would otherwise have missed out on. It opened the door to a new direction for me’.

Interim CEO of Rehab Group, Barry McGinn said: “Our economy is rapidly growing and we are close to full employment, but people with disabilities are often excluded from the jobs market and spend their time looking in. If you have a disability you are twice as likely to be unemployed, this is unacceptable. This is where NLN comes in- every day we are helping people into meaningful employment and helping them to change their story.”

“We work with people of all ages, from early school leavers right up to people aged 65. Our staff are skilled in working with employers to help match students with the right employer and the right role. We would advise anyone who needs extra support to get into employment or further education to drop into a centre during our National Open Day event on April 1st,” he said.

Members of the public interested in attending an NLN Open Day are asked to log on to to find the location of their nearest centre  


For more information or to request an interview please contact Senior Communications Executive Ciara Heffernan on or call 087 9728513