A new bursary fund of €200,000 was launched today to support community workers seeking to pursue endorsed postgraduate community work qualifications.

The Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) has provided the funding for the bursary to the All Ireland Endorsement Body (AIEB) for Community Work Education.

The fund was established to meet a commitment under the government’s five-year strategy for the Community and Voluntary sector: Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities.

An AIEB assessment of education and training needs had previously called for affordable and accessible professional community work education for people with degrees already employed in community work jobs.

The bursary will be available to managers of community organisations, community workers and those who undertake community work duties in associated roles who have graduate degrees but no professional community work qualifications.

It will fund places on the Masters in Community and Youth Work Programme at Maynooth University, which will be offered on a part-time basis.

AIEB is also currently developing a pre-professional training initiative for people with no qualifications.

Minister for Integration, Community Development and Charities Joe O’Brien said: “The bursary will support successful applicants and we hope that employers in the sector will also support their staff to take up this opportunity.

“My department is currently engaging with AIEB on further proposals to support people employed and involved in community work who do not have any qualifications.”

Information about the bursaries is available from bursary@aieb.ie. For information about the programme, contact the Department of Applied Social Studies in Maynooth University.