Workers from Slovakia, Pakistan, Poland, Ireland and Brazil attended a training course in hospitality skills in Hannon’s Hotel, Roscommon, recently, aimed at improving their skills and employment opportunities in the hospitality sector. The course was organised by Roscommon Partnership and Fáilte Ireland,with accredited trainers from Fáilte Ireland delivering the different modules. Joseph Nyirenda, Integration Officer with Roscommon Partnership explains: ‘The course is operated in conjunction with Roscommon Partnership and Fáilte Ireland. It is coming from the Integration and Diversity Project that is trying to integrate ethnic minorities into the society and into employment.’ The course got underway on September 26 th and runs for four weeks, from 9.30 am to 2.30 pm daily. There are 16 course participants, one man and 15 women and five countries are represented. It is one of a number of such courses operated by Fáilte Ireland. Other courses run by Fáilte Ireland include accommodation skills, bar skills and cookery. The accommodation or hospitality skills course aims to equip participants with the skills necessary to work in hotels, B&Bs, hospitals and nursing homes. Instructor Karen Brennan, one of nine Fáilte Ireland hospitality instructors in Ireland. said, ‘It’s about encouraging people back into the workforce in the hospitality sector.’ Foreign nationals now comprise five percent of the county’s population, but in the hospitality sector, they comprise 32 percent of the workforce. The course is one aspect of an integration project currently being promoted by Roscommon Partnership. Other elements include an intercultural DVD, interpretative and translation service, a newsletter for ethnic minorities and a service to people in prison. As part of the course package, participants receive a uniform, including safety shoes, and also receive a training allowance and lunch. After completing the course, all participants receive a certificate. ‘The aim is that employers would take on trained people before they would employ someone who is not trained,’ said Karen Brennan, who added that items covered on the course include cleaning practices, making beds to a correct standard, preparing a departure room and occupied room. With such a variety of participants, language difficulties can be an obstacle for both participants and tutors. To overcome this, Fáilte Ireland provides each participant with notes translated into their own language, in this case, Polish, Slovakian and Portuguese and the course is mainly task based with competency-based training. Enhancing English skills is another aspect of the work involved. To enhance the English of participants, Roscommon Partnership has teamed up with the Department of Education and provides participants with software to help improve their English. A start your own business course is also running in Ballaghaderreen at the moment, with 22 participants from countries such as Poland, Pakistan, Chechnya and Brazil. If demand for the start your own business course expands, a course may be run in Roscommon town next year.