Uganda

Tricia CunninghamWe know that drought and arid land are not the only factors in third world poverty; poor management and a lack of leadership are also at the heart of it. Recently LEAP’s Tricia Cunningham returned from Uganda having spent some time working alongside Self Help Africa. The goal of this Non-Government Organisation (NGO) is long term sustainability for small farmers and to break the cycle of dependency on foreign aid. Despite its potential, Uganda’s natural resources have never been properly utilized and it is still considered a third world nation. Tricia decided to go to Uganda and see for herself the kind of challenges facing agricultural communities there.

Armed with her experience in developing and delivering leadership and management training programmes, this first phase of Tricia’s work was about assessing the requirements of the local farmers and the Self Help Africa team.  Over the coming months she will also visit Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia, West Africa and Kenya.  Here, Tricia shares some of her observations about her Uganda trip.

Tricia: ‘Sometimes when working in business we close our eyes to best practices in other disciplines believing they are irrelevant.  We use such expressions as “they don’t understand how we do things here” cutting off the potential for innovative practices that could benefit our organisations.  Many NGOs understand the necessity of determining best practices to maximise limited budgets. At the same time they recognise the importance of development to maintain and enhance the services provided.

Self Help Africa

Self Help Africa is a progressive NGO that demonstrates leadership in its area of expertise as it applies innovative approaches to its work.  A recent trip to its offices in Uganda provided me with the opportunity to see first-hand how this NGO is implementing best practices to develop a robust organisation, how it is working towards a goal of long-term sustainability for smallholder farmers and how it is ensuring inertia and complacency are kept at bay.  Best practices applied include:

  • Determining a long-term goal -sustainable future for smallholder farmers- and ensuring it remains at the core of all activities and strategies
  •  Hiring local experts who understand the needs of their service users (customers)
  • Removing non-essential activities from local offices so they are free to do what they do best – support their service users
  • Providing organisation support centrally for multiple locations thus reducing costs
  • Availing of technology to drive their work, to support local country offices and to reduce costs
  • Collaborating with branches in other countries, sharing insights and addressing blockages to progress

Leadership and Management in Uganda

In a country like Uganda where allegations of corruption have exploded recently the importance of running a highly effective, efficient, transparent and innovative organisation has never been more necessary.  They understand that establishing a great organisation isn’t simply a desire, it’s a necessity.  It really can make the difference between life and death.’

LEAP

 

Maureen Grealish director at LEAPIn the highly competitive world of business, CEO’s require a variety of leadership skills and qualities. Some are obvious and you’ve probably heard them mentioned many times before – a clear vision, the ability to develop achievable business goals, a good communicator, excellent motivator, tenacious, innovative, a risk taker. But self -awareness is probably the greatest quality that any CEO can possess.

One way that this pays off is in the decision making process. For example, if a company is in the early stages of development, the CEO and senior managers must be aware of the capacity of their workforce and their operations. They need to be conscious of the fact that with a limited number of staff they can only produce so much output at any given time.

Know Your Limitations

It’s vital therefore that every business owner, particularly in the start-up phase, understands what the limitations of their business operations are. How many units of product can they realistically produce and deliver to customers per day, per week, per month? Setting Key Performance Indicators is a crucial part of this process.

The Right Response?

But what happens when a CEO gets approached by a new client with a potentially lucrative contract that is bigger than anything they’ve taken on before? It may be tempting for an inexperienced business owner to say yes to everything in the mistaken belief that he should never pass up the opportunity to do business. But is this the right response? What if the opportunity is simply beyond the scope of the business owner and he fails to deliver the contracted amount of product on time? How damaging can that be?

The answer will vary from company to company and the type of business you’re in. Some companies may fail to deliver on a contract and still survive. This may occur simply because the failure to deliver was not publicised widely across media channels. Others may not be so lucky and find themselves featuring in newspaper and internet articles for all the wrong reasons. CEO’s who fail to deliver may find the damage is irreparable and struggle to regain the trust of clients.

The most recent case of this was the failure of the G4S boss Nick Buckles to deliver the necessary security personnel for London 2012 Olympics. By his own admission at the subsequent inquiry in London, he simply couldn’t deliver because he had bitten off more than he could chew; a mistake that could cost G4S between £30 – £50 million pounds.

Maureen Grealish

“As a business advisor with LEAP I have worked with CEO’s in the small to medium sized sector for many years. I understand the temptation to accept all contracts but I also understand that CEO’s need to know when to say no. It is always tempting to accept the offer of work at any stage of business but particularly as a start-up, but if the contract is beyond the capacity, and more important the capability of the business, then they should say no.”

Sometimes Leadership Means Knowing When To Say No: Saying No As Part Of Your Brand Management

“It is true that a business needs to stretch itself and always try to achieve more than may seem possible, but it is important to focus on the type of business that brings out the best in your business, and your people. Saying yes, will normally be for cash-flow reasons, but you need to decide if the contract fits with your business, its strengths and with your future plans. The benefits of saying no are that you can focus your time and limited resources on building your business in line with its strengths and longer term goals. Another benefit is that you are more likely to meet and exceed customer’s expectations which is important at any stage of business, but especially when you are trying to build a reputation as a new business.”

 

What is Leadership?

What is Leadership?

What builds a successful business? Is it luck? Many would doubt that and certainly asking an investor to support your initiative and describing it as a “lucky opportunity” won’t help you. Let’s not build our business on luck. At least not the traditional definition of luck.

Successful leaders and managers know that luck is really about persistence, practice and perspective. How many times have you heard “it took me 20 years to become an overnight success” (persistence)? How about “the more I practice the luckier I get” (practice)? And how about “the harder I look the more I find” (perspective)?

So luck is hard work. Build your success on the right definition of luck: persistence, practice and perspective.

How can you benefit from a LEAP management course?

Managers have the responsibility of translating business goals into tangible results which can only be
achieved through:
  • Ensuring they take full responsibility for goals and overcoming challenges to achieving those goals
  • Recognising how to apply best management practices to the specific requirements of their company
  • Drawing out optimum performances from their teams
  • Adopting the attitude and behaviours of high performing managers

How can you benefit from a  LEAP leadership course?

Our leadership programme has two main objectives:

  • Enable the participants to realise their potential as effective leaders in their company.
  • Ensure that they can define how best to position and structure the company so that it can sustain and develop itself independent of the leader.

 

 

Developing Your Management SkillsThey say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. When managing people we seem to be a little insane. We do the same things over and over again with people and expect them to change.

We speak to people the same way, repeating ourselves in the belief that people “just don’t get it”. And yet things don’t change.  We tick the box of ‘Management Skills’ development by participating in management training courses so the conclusion we reach is that we’re doing things right, the employee is doing something wrong. Perhaps it’s time for us to stop and hit the pause button.

We need to begin with ourselves and look at what we’re doing and not doing so that we can break the behaviour cycle. If we come at the issue from a different perspective we can often come up with a different, better solution. Look at why you think the employee acted the way he/she did and the thought process behind the action. Discuss with the employee and together develop alternative approaches. Good communication solves many issues and results in solutions that work long term.

Tricia Cunningham

 

Leadership Style The Motivation FactorManagers often struggle as they think about how to motivate employees. Part of demonstrating leadership – leadership styles – means finding that motivation factor. In the past when money was available team nights out were organised or the Christmas Party and Summer bar-b-q were pencilled into the calendar. The manager would encourage all to participate declaring “it’ll be fun” to which some smiled while internally they groaned. The cost of such events didn’t always yield the desired results. Managers ignored or failed to remember that motivation isn’t about semi annual or annual events. Instead it’s an on-going requirement that needs attention. Ultimately it’s about understanding employees as individuals, observing their behaviours, recognising what drives them and then providing opportunities to tap into those drivers. It’s not a difficult process, just one that requires attention and the desire to make it both happen and work for the business and your employee.

So here’s how it works:

Step 1: Observation

Observe how your employee approaches work and see if you notice a pattern. Note the time your employee flies through a job or is in good humour. Identify patterns that emerge; maybe the person enjoys a challenge or always finds ways to make improvements or maybe your employee enjoys interacting with external customers. Whatever the employee is doing well is linked to what motivates them. Your job is to find out what that is which can only be done through deliberate observation.

Step 2: Talk to the Employee

Follow up your observations with a discussion with the employee. This doesn’t have to be a formal appraisal meeting. Find the time and space to have a conversation. Comment on the positive observations and ask them about those observations: what did they enjoy about the work? Would they like to do more of that type of work if the opportunity arises? What other aspects of their role do they enjoy? Don’t make any commitment to the employee at this time. This is just a conversation to understand the employee and to demonstrate to the employee that you are noting their positive contributions.

Step 3: Step Back and Find the Opportunities

Take time to find ways to use the strengths the employee demonstrated. Are there projects to which the employee could be assigned? Is there a body of work that has been ignored that would be interesting for this individual? Could this individual assist another area of the business or another team? Be creative and don’t limit yourself to what you’ve always done or how a department is defined. Broaden your thinking. Remember, if you don’t find opportunities your employee will find opportunities – probably outside your business or indeed with your competitor.

Step 4: Get Things Rolling

Plan your course of action and involve your employee. Explain why you are taking this course of action. Praise the employee and let them know you will continue to observe what they are doing and encourage them to find further opportunities to apply their strengths. Let them know this is not the finishing point but a process that will continue as the business continues to hold its own or indeed grow.

This process is never ending so once applied it needs to be maintained. This approach ensures you encourage employees to be intrinsically motivated and not reliant on external (and often monetary) rewards.

Tricia Cunningham.

The Challenge of Leadership

Why is it that some weeks you are a focused, energetic leader and other weeks you feel like you are swimming through mud? Maybe it is because you are much more effective and energised when you are doing things that play to your personal strengths, and you are much less effective when you are doing things that are NOT playing to your personal strengths.The Challenge of Leadership

So, what do you do?

  1.  Keep reminding yourself that you are a leader and that you have a responsibility towards yourself and others.
  2. Define your strengths and identify how you can best align your role as leader to those strengths
  3. Recognise when you have some tasks to do that are not aligned to your personal strengths
  4. Ask yourself whether those tasks can be delegated to others – if they can, then delegate them (ideally to someone who has strengths in that area)
  5. If you, and only you, can do the specific tasks then do them as quickly as possible and then get back to what you do best. Your heart and your business will thank you for it!

Leadership is about spending as much time as possible being focused, energised and therefore far more effective and as little time as possible swimming through mud (unless you like to de-stress by doing some bog swimming!)

The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born – Warren Bennis.

And remember – we don’t get it perfect all of the time. It is the endeavour….the starting afresh over and over…that eventually creates the habit of leadership….and THAT is the true prize.

Maureen Grealish

“Leaders are people who are able to express themselves fully. By this I mean that they know who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to deploy their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. They also know what they want, why they want it, and how to communicate what they want to others in order to gain their cooperation and support.

Finally they know how to achieve their goals. The key to full self-expression is understanding one’s self and the world, and the key to understanding is learning – from one’s life and experience.

Leaders have no interest in proving themselves, but an abiding interest in expressing themselves. The difference is crucial, for it’s the difference between being driven, as too many people are today, and leading, as too few people do.”

Warren Bennis.

John_Raftery__2_These words by Warren Bennis serve as a timely reminder to each of us now that the tide of the economic boom has gone out. As we look around we see the hollowness of much of the business leadership over the last number of years. There is a lot of ducking and diving, a failure to accept responsibility and questions about what success really means in these changing times.

Look at the description of leadership by Bennis again and ask yourself where would we start to develop true leadership in Irish business?

Much has been written and analysed regarding leadership but at the root of true leadership is self-awareness. Knowing your strengths and weakness’ is vital. The ability to express yourself fully doesn’t just mean being a good communicator. It means expressing yourself through your actions. It is when our actions are fully aligned with our values that we use that great Irish description of someone as being “genuine”

Another word that has gone out of fashion during the boom is the word “vocation”. I know it conjures up images from dreary priest ridden Ireland but think about the word in a new light. I believe that the definition of the word Vocation can be found at the point where your strengths and the needs of the community intersect.

Think about it. We are all on a quest to find what we are good at, how we can use our creativity, ingenuity to make a living doing what we love. Real success is getting paid to do something you love to do and that is your true vocation.

LEAP Consultants have developed a unique approach to finding your true purpose. Firstly you must develop self-awareness. This is fundamental in order to avoid chasing things that will not bring fulfilment. Remember the phrase “What you are aware of you can control, what you are unaware of, controls you.”

You must create a vision that is inspiring and will motivate you to crash through the fears and doubts that keep us back. Finally you must commit to taking action

These steps form the basis for all of the LEAP  Leadership and Management programmes, which brings together the latest thinking in psychology, business leadership, executive coaching and management practices.

Mahatma Gandhi had a good phrase that captures the essence of all LEAP programmes,

“Become the change you want to see in the world.”

John Raftery
LEAP

 

 

Networking - a luxury or a necessary evil?

The word ‘Networking’ sends a shiver down many a business person’s spine. We conjure up images of walking into a room, on your own, to be greeted by huddled groups in deep conversation. The courage required to approach a group, particularly if you don’t know anyone, can dissuade even the most confident of people. So, all too often we dismiss opportunities for networking because it is “too difficult”, or “it is just a talking shop”.

However, my interest and energy in networking has been re-awakened as a result of attending some truly excellent events over the past few months.

Participating in the Enterprise Ireland Going for Growth Programme has been a real eye opener for me. The opportunity to discuss my business with other business leaders, and with a lead entrepreneur (Monica Flood – Thank you), a proven success in business in her own right was an opportunity not to be missed. The annual Forums are an opportunity to learn from some of the leading women entrepreneurs in Ireland (Norah Casey, Anne Herathy amongst others) and an opportunity to network. The networking conducted through this Programme has been highly effective as all the businesses tend to be at a similar stage, and are all open to new ideas.

The Irish Executives Summit held in Galway a few months ago was mind-blowing, the standard of the speakers (including our own Mike Gaffney), the use of technology and the positivity evident that day was a real turning point for many people. For us in LEAP, the Summit was the conduit for us reviewing and updating the presentations we use with clients and for speaking events. It also introduced us to a dynamic and energetic group of business people who together will achieve great things by creating business opportunities together.

The recent MeetWest event organised by the Chambers of Commerce (and other agencies) in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo was another great event. The concept of networking was taken to another level through the use of a “structured, pre-arranged networking meeting” schedule which allowed for 10 meetings during Day 2 of the event. To experience the level of conversation, to see the exchange of business cards, and to hear the arrangement of follow-up meetings was inspiring and comforting – business is being done and will continue to be done, despite the economic situation.

In summary, there currently exists an appetite and an energy for business leaders to access very high quality opportunities for networking.

These opportunities should be grabbed with both hands as they

  • Provide the environment to make new, valuable contacts
  • Provide  the opportunity for self and business improvement
  • Generate the positive energy that is a welcome break from the constant negativity that is now the norm.

Happy networking!

Maureen Grealish

The Deliberate Leader

Mike Gaffney The Deliberate Leader_leadership developmentLeadership Development

The Deliberate Leader blog has been written to distil the insights I have uncovered in working with entrepreneurs and company owners throughout Ireland. The first insight is to dispel the myth that leaders are born, not made. The skills of leadership are like any skill-set, If you work at it correctly and diligently you can deliberately, step by step, become an effective leader. It takes time and patience, but, most of all, it requires a willingness to observe yourself in thought and action, with a view to actively learning how to improve your behaviours and capabilities.

The second insight, is to be aware of the human’s obsession with certainty. This desire for certainty permeates multiple facets of our existence, from religious/spiritual beliefs, to personal wellbeing, to how to best manage our careers. Playing it safe, ensures survival but not excellence. Beware of certainty – certainty can lead to stagnation and a resistance to change; to preserving with the status quo. Uncertainty maintains the need to keep going; learning and acquiring new ideas and behaviours to successfully negotiate new challenges, which are coming at us constantly.

The Deliberate Leader is succinct and hopefully to the point, because entrepreneurs typically have a low attention span and look for ideas that they can immediately apply as they quickly move on to the next challenge or opportunity. As our immediate history in Ireland is teaching us, there is a significant requirement for both an understanding of leadership and development of leaders if our country is going to grow and to enable each of us to better realise our individual and collective potential.

The Deliberate Leader Growth Dynamic

The Leader’s Growth Dynamic is reflected in the following bullet points which are interlocked, and demonstrate that as you make movement in one area, you are correspondingly bringing positive movement to the other two areas of focus.

  • Have a clear sense of purpose
  • Increase your self awareness
  • Making the journey

The  bullet points below simplify what you as Leader need to focus on:

  • Become more Aware of Yourself
  • Develop and hone your Sense of Purpose; give it the space to grow – Trust yourself
  • Start now – today; make a step that propels you on your journey to becoming an effective Leader

The above three areas overlap and support each other. The human mind likes to put things into discrete categories. This is contrary to the multi-facetted challenge of being an effective Leader. Your level of Self-Awareness is intertwined and overlaps with your Sense of Purpose and with having the discipline to make your Leadership Journey. The interfaces between the three constituent parts merge, which strengthens the overall impact of the three discrete areas and keeps the three cogs moving smoothly, in unison.

For example, the greater your self-awareness as to what you excel at, the more you can align it with and compliment your sense of purpose; which as you make the journey and develop the habits you need to deliver on your sense of purpose – those habits will complement and enhance your level of Self-Awareness.

Unemployment can affect people in all sorts of ways. It isn’t just about a loss of income, it goes deeper than that. How we respond to it is crucial in terms of survival at any time, but particularly in times of low economic growth with all the feelings of anxiety that surround it. Unemployment is something that has to be managed like anything else in life. The process of managing it involves effort on the part of the individual and a support system that can respond to their efforts. Managing unemployment means doing things to maintain your health and your self esteem, so exercise and a healthy diet help a lot. But the crucial factor in managing unemployment is to be proactive in terms of getting back into employment. Personal contacts, social networks and recruitment agencies are various ways people can be proactive. Another way for people to do this is through internships.

Kathryn’s story

Kathryn’s life was very different not so long ago. This time last year she was unemployed and experiencing the various symptoms that accompany it – loss of confidence, frustration, disillusion. Kathryn, like a lot of people today, had plenty of experience under her belt, but finding herself jobless in a shrinking job market put her under a lot of stress and a sense of panic set in. Kathryn had 15 years marketing experience working with tech companies in London and Silicon Valley in the US, as well as Baltimore Technologies and O2 here at home. Unemployment was frustrating but Kathryn was proactive in her response, and so began a process of reaching out to find people and companies to which she could add value. Through a friend of hers, Kathryn heard about a 12 week programme called Begin Again. Facilitated by the Irish Centre for Business Excellence (ICBE), a non-profit organisation, the programme’s objectives were two- fold:

  1. Assist unemployed people with qualifications and skills to re-enter the work force.
  2. Enable host companies complete a project that adds value to their business.

Kathryn liked the basic objectives of Begin Again and decided to forward her CV. She went to the Begin Again website and completed the application process. The process, as it turns out, was pretty quick and Kathryn was called in the next day to meet up with one of the programme’s facilitators. Begin Again was about trying to find a ‘good fit’ between applicant and host company. To determine this good fit, the applicants were chosen based on CV content and an expression of interest. Positions were assigned and meetings with host companies began. The first two weeks with Begin Again involved basic training in planning and managing, communication and awareness, leadership and resilience. In the third week, the interns began job placements with companies looking for the skills matching those of the applicant. Kathryn’s placement began with Blue Moon Communications, a PR agency specialising in communications skills for individuals and companies seeking brand promotion.

The Trainer

Kathryn’s experience at Blue Moon had its pros and cons. On the one hand she felt like there was little by way of direction on the job, but on the other hand this forced her to use her own initiative. Or as Kathryn puts it, “I focused on achieving results by myself.” Which, in the rough and tumble world of PR, is probably a good thing. Week three also saw the introduction of a Trainer; for Kathryn this meant receiving guidance from Tricia Cunningham, co-founder of LEAP. Having spent time in America as a training professional, Tricia returned to Ireland to join Nortel Networks as a Training & Development Manager. After Nortel she co-founded LEAP as a leadership and management consultancy firm. Much of her time is spent with clients who are entering a new phase in their careers, that of management. A big part of this transition involves clients asking themselves, “What value can I bring to this new role?” There are similarities between her work with new managers and that of her mentoring role with interns on the Begin Again programme. Firstly, there is the issue of transition, something which many people can find daunting. Just as employees are being considered for management roles in their companies and must embrace this change, the unemployed are facing a tough transitional phase of their own. Supporting people through this transitional phase is part of the mentor’s work. Secondly, mentoring both management clients and interns is largely about building up their confidence to a level whereby they recognise their own worth, and start to believe in their own capabilities. Thirdly, Tricia focuses on setting goals and this is an aspect of unemployment that can often suffer due to the stress of being let go from a job. People lose focus and goals are not pursued; in some cases goals are never set in the first place.

For Kathryn, having a trainer who understood where she was coming from made all the difference. “Tricia was brilliant to work with. She focused on practical things and provided great support. She believed in me,” says Kathryn.  This was a crucial part of the recovery process for her because, as anyone who has experienced unemployment knows, one of the first things to suffer is your own confidence. You may have the skills and the qualifications, even high levels of experience, but when the number of job opportunities decreases and the competition for jobs increases, even experienced people can start to doubt themselves; its human nature I guess.

FBD and recovery

Kathryn’s journey took her from unemployment to Begin Again to an internship with Blue Moon. However, the struggle for employment didn’t end there. The internship ended in March 2011 and afterwards Kathryn spent another period of time unemployed, but the confidence she had gained from the Begin Again programme helped her through this. Then in September 2011 Kathryn got the break she was looking for. Irish company, FBD Insurance advertised a position for events and marketing. Kathryn applied and got the job and her new role has given her a whole new lease of life. FBD are an insurance firm with over 40 years experience and are one of Ireland’s largest insurers with over 500,000 customers. They have local offices nationwide. So did such a prestigious firm intimidate Kathryn? The short answer is no. Her very first assignment for FBD was the National Ploughing Championships (NPC), an event which drew over 150,000 people to Athy in Kildare. www.npa.ie/. The fact that Kathryn was able to handle an event with such huge scope as the NPC is not just a reflection of her own abilities and experience, but also a reflection of the confidence she gained from Tricia and Begin Again.

I asked Kathryn what advice she would give to others who find themselves unemployed. She had this to say: “I would encourage people to get involved in a programme like Begin Again. I would also recommend that people devise a plan for themselves. Start researching companies that you would like to work for, the more research the better. Try to learn as much as you can about them, do your homework, don’t go in blind into the interview. Be assertive and believe you can add value to the company. Believe that I can do this.” So how is life now compared to this time last year? “Much, much better,” she says. “I’m excited about things now.”  This story had a happy ending for Kathryn after a challenging year of unemployment. But this happy ending only came about because of her willingness to engage with an internship programme, something some qualified and experienced people won’t consider. This open minded approach is proof that creativity and tenacity are as much a part of the recovery process as upskilling.

Funding stops – why?

In Kathryn’s case the internship didn’t immediately lead to employment, but her time with Begin Again gave her a renewed sense of focus and confidence and that in itself can make the difference between short and long-term unemployment. No-one is suggesting that internships are a panacea for unemployment or a stagnated economy, but since June 2010 more than 720 people have participated in the Begin Again Programme. More than two thirds of the participants are now re-employed or have started their own businesses with advice and support from their trainers. The programme was funded by the Labour Market Activation Fund set up by the Department of Education and Skills. When you consider the results the Begin Again internship programme produced, it makes the decision to cease funding of it all the more bewildering. In June 2011 funding for the programme ceased, presumably due to the pressure of the current fiscal crisis our government faces. However, according to the Begin Again website they are continuing to seek funding and will re-launch if successful. The site also states that ‘unemployed people with transferable skills – and businesses interested in providing work placements – may continue to apply online.’

One would assume that the more interest expressed from both the unemployed and host companies, the more likely the Department of Education and Skills would be to re-launch the programme. It is in everyone’s interest to do so because the more people Begin Again can place back into the workforce on internships, the more people are likely to be hired on a full or part time basis as the previous round of funding already proved. This in turn will lead to people earning a wage and paying tax which is what the government needs to ease their fiscal problems. It also takes pressure of the social welfare system. So the intern wins by getting back their confidence and hopefully getting a job. The employers win because they get the ‘good fit’ they need to fill the role on a specific project their company is working on. The government wins by receiving more tax and paying out fewer benefits.   It’s a win-win-win situation for all considered so the decision to cease funding this initiative couldn’t have been made at a worse time. Now more than ever this country needs precisely these types of initiatives to help both the unemployed with skills and qualifications, and employers with project staff requirements, to connect with each other in a much more efficient and effective way. The cost of operating such a programme must surely outweigh the benefits for the Irish economy as a whole. And it can certainly help individuals like Kathryn to find a new direction.