Positive 2 Work Skillnet with DIAGEO Ireland winners of Top Best Back to Employment Initiative in IITD Awards 2016


Top Best Back to Employment Initiative Winners (Left to right)

Christine Campbell (Positive2Work Skillnet), Bernie Judge (Department of Social Protection), Angela Smith (DIAGEO), Grainne O’Boyle (Positive2Work Skillnet), Anne Keeley (Department of Social Protection) and Mark Brennan (Positive2Work Skillnet).


The training and work placement initiative formed part of the DIAGEO ‘Learning for Life’ Programme. Based in Dundalk, an area which has suffered significantly as a result of past industry decline, the project involved a partnership with trainees, DIAGEO Ireland, Positive2Work Skillnet, Department of Social Protection (DSP), Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) and Work Placement Hosts.

Consultations took place with local employers in the NE region (hotels, restaurants and bars); to identify what skills shortages existed within the sector. As a result of these discussions, the following gaps were identified:

  • Barista training: a very current and relevant qualification, highly sought after by employers
  • Food and Beverage operations & culinary skills training
  • Practical skills training in areas such as taking orders, working in a pressurised service environment, food hygiene, good quality bar tendering
  • Manual handling
  • Customer service
  • Communication skills
  • Life skills


A unique feature included the design of a Special Purpose Award – resulting in the creation of a completely unique Qualification – a ‘fitness for purpose’, current and relevant qualification to meet the market needs of 2015 and beyond. It was felt that this was important in terms of the programme’s success as 19 of the initial 20 trainees completed the training. Following on from the success of this North East initiative, representing a 60% return to employment outcome, the programme is being rolled out during 2016 to several other locations nationally.

Now in its 18th year, the IITD National Training Awards in Association with Harvest Resources Ltd is recognised as the premier Learning & Development event for industry. The IITD range of Award categories is designed to recognise the most important activities within Training and Learning & Development. Every category is open to entries from companies across the whole spectrum of industry, commerce and the public sector, and from organisations of all sizes.

The purpose of the IITD National Training Awards is to promote excellence, best practice and innovation in Training and Learning & Development, and to highlight the importance of this area in today’s business climate. This demanding area of business is arguably the critical success factor for future growth and competitiveness for many organisations. Therefore the role of those responsible for delivery and management of Training is vital. For this reason it is absolutely right for the Learning & Development profession to have a cross industry national event to recognise, promote and honour excellence, professionalism and outstanding achievement.

Awards entries are judged on criteria including the level of resources and investment relative to the size of the organisation; innovation in the delivery of training and development; evidence of the sustainability of learning initiatives, programme design and evaluation of outcomes from T&D activity.