Between 2017 and 2022, more than 2,400 people with disabilities and those with additional needs have found jobs through an innovative training provider, National Learning Network. A further 3700 have been supported to transition to a broad range of further training education opportunities with 50% progressing onto higher level training and education courses including third level colleges and universities. 

National Learning Network is a progressive leader in delivering personalised education, training, and development opportunities for people with disabilities or requiring additional support throughout Irish communities.

The certified training courses have significantly impacted the progression of people with a disability and health conditions into employment. Some participants, who were previously locked out of the jobs market, have landed jobs in companies such as Facebook, eir, Ryanair, Mr. Price and across the hospitality and tourism industry. People attending National Learning Network include those claiming any form of disability benefit, those recovering from an accident or injury, or those living with mental health challenges, autism or learning disabilities.

National Learning Network (NLN) each year also supports hundreds of people with complex and enduring mental health issues through a new programme launched in 2019 called Individual Placement and Support (IPS). IPS helps people who would have otherwise met with barriers to the employment market to find work in mainstream competitive jobs. Under this initiative, 616 people who participated in the IPS programme with NLN since 2019 have secured employment.

People 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 over €750,000 to the State as a result of securing employment. Additionally, the Exchequer has saved conservatively in the region of €100,000 annually in reduced expenditure on social welfare benefits, not including savings on secondary benefits.

The figures were released today as National Learning Network launched its inaugural National Open Day, which will be held on Wednesday, August 24th 2022, at 11 am and will see more than 30 centres across the country open their doors to the public. National Learning Network is the education and training division of Rehab Group. It is Ireland’s largest private provider of personalised education, training and employment services.

After acquiring a brain injury in 2015 following a fall from a horse she needed support to get back on her feet and back to work. Wendy Newman began studying I.T. and office skills at National Learning Network in Navan and is now back in employment.

Wendy said: “I was lost. I thought my life had no meaning. I didn’t have a clue what I could do next. Then someone told me about NLN. From the minute I heard about it, I felt it was something that would suit me. If nothing else, it would get me out of bed, get me organised, encourage me to plan, and have a social life again. From the moment I walked in the door, I could see smiling faces and I knew this was right for me. My tutor knew about my fatigue and we chatted about how he could support me. He gave me a chair beside the door and said anytime you need to step out please just

do that, and I have to say, that little bit of understanding made all the difference. It’s given me back my independence and I learned that I had something to offer”.

Director of Learning at National Learning Network, Lucianne Bird said: “After more than two years of living with a pandemic we have many people living with new mental health challenges and complications of Long-Covid that could avail of these life-changing courses and get back on track. We work with people not just with a disability, but those who have had a health setback, mental health condition, recovering from an accident, autism and intellection disability. We are a pathway for people to access further and third level education, apprenticeships and employment. If you have a disability, you are twice as likely to be unemployed in this country; this is unacceptable. At NLN we believe no one should be left behind and this is what our inclusive, equitable education and training model is all about.”

“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 Wednesday, August 24th.” she said. Members of the public interested in attending an NLN Open Day can log onto nln.ie to find the location of their nearest centre.

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