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Connacht Tribune

Global online education is thriving from Galway through turbulent times

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Alison HQ in Parkmore.

As the coronavirus rages across the world, one Galway company – specialising in free online learning – has seen a five-fold increase in traffic to its already busy website…making it one of the top 5,000 most popular websites in the world.

Alison, the global free online learning platform, based in Parkmore, has over 14 million registered members worldwide and two million graduates of their 1,500-plus free online courses. This surge in website traffic is due to several factors, according to Alison founder/CEO Mike Feerick.

“With so many people now working from home, the obvious thing for many is to spend time upskilling online, doing the courses that they have perhaps put off doing for years,” he said.

Popular courses are Microsoft Excel, Touch Typing, Project Management and across the developing world, English language courses.

“We anticipated the impact of the Coronavirus early on and see it not just as an opportunity to help but as a responsibility,” said Mike.

Alison, he said had ‘created courses in the past to educate global audiences about the Swine Flu, SARS and Ebola epidemics’.

“During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, of the 50,000 people in West Africa who studied the Alison course, many found it the only informational resource available to them, where government information efforts were scarce on the ground,” he revealed.

Mike Feerick also firmly believes that Ireland has ‘the resolve necessary across the population to deal with the crisis’ – and that is through aggressive testing and tracing.

But he added: “The lack of coordination across the US States and the lack of national leadership is a great cause for concern for us here.”

“Where I am most concerned however is Africa, where the hospital and informational resources available elsewhere are not as developed”.

To combat the lack of information on Coronavirus, Alison created a course on the disease (https://alison.com/coronavirus) and, with the help of medical professionals across the world who are members of Alison, have translated the course into over 50 languages.

“It’s a big undertaking which we are organising through our office in South Africa. Our target is any language which is spoken by over 10 million people. It has been an interesting exercise” he said.

Alison has also seen greater demand in Ireland where it already has 200,000 members.

“Students are taking time at home to do courses such as Maths. We have free video grinds on Lower and Higher Junior and Leaving Cert maths and relevant courses in the Sciences and Business.

“They have the opportunity also to explore areas that they might have an interest in away from the school curriculum, such as coding, or even make-up artistry.

With the current boom in traffic, Alison is expanding rapidly, and is seeking to fill several positions at its Parkmore, Galway Headquarters.

While Alison now has offices in South Africa, Nigeria and Mumbai, India, its “brain trust”, as Mike Feerick calls it, is based in Parkmore. Everything is decided out of Galway he said, all strategy and implementation, taking the time to add that Ireland needs more Irish-owned internationally trading businesses that brings new money into the country, and moreover, the Galway area.

Alison has immediate openings in technology in back-end and front-end engineering, systems administration, Database management, Business Analysis, Data Science and Data Analytics. It also has vacancies in global marketing.

Mike Feerick states that marketing vacancies have been hard to fill from Galway, due to the scarcity of businesses who run marketing operations from the West of Ireland.

If anyone would like to apply, email careers@alison.com

 

You will also find this story – and 18 pages on Galway’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops today. You can also buy a digital edition online from www.connachttribune.ie or have a paper included with your supermarket shop delivery.

Connacht Tribune

SMEs set their sights on Euro expansion

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Kevin Moran of IMS Marketing accepting the ‘Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development, with Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon and Nan Gou, Programme Director, ESMT Berlin.

Irish entrepreneurs have the skills, products and services to break down barriers across Europe, according to one Galway-based marketing agency that is helping SMEs enter new markets.

Kevin Moran, Managing Director of IMS Marketing in Galway, said that this creativity and enthusiasm allows Irish entrepreneurs to punch above their weight in new markets.

He was speaking after his IMS Marketing was honoured for its ‘Enter-the-Eurozone’ Programme which has helped 19 SMEs break into Europe.

And he urged all SMEs to continue to set their ambitions on export markets as we emerge from the Covid-19 restrictions and revisit the challenges of Brexit.

Mr Moran said that IMS Marketing, along with its partners, Enterprise Ireland and ESMT Berlin, was delighted to receive the Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development.

“The vision for the ‘Enter the Eurozone’ Programme was to enable progressive Irish SMEs  to enter a new Eurozone market in a strategically led way,” he said.

“Export markets will be more important than ever for Irish companies and jobs as they now face the twin threat of Brexit and a post Covid19 economic recession.”

Accepting the Award’ from the EFMD, Mr Moran said that his company witnessed the strength of the Irish SME sector during the delivery of the award-winning ‘Enter the Eurozone’ programme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Businesses miss out on restart grant

Stephen Corrigan

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Mr. Kenneth Deery. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure
CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery

Just one-third of Galway business eligible for the Government’s Restart Grant have actually applied for the scheme which aims to bolster small enterprise as Covid-19 restrictions ease.

It was revealed this week that businesses in Galway City and County have received almost €4.5 million in grant aid under the scheme which offers grants of between €2,000 and €10,000 to commercial rates-liable enterprises.

To qualify for the €250 million scheme, businesses must have an annual turnover of less than €5 million; have 50 or fewer employee; and have a projected loss of revenue of 25% or more.

CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery said there were many Galway businesses that had yet to apply for the grants, despite the fact that they were entitled to do so.

Only around 1,100 of the about 3,000 businesses in the city and county that may be due a pay-out have applied, and confusion over eligibility was contributing to that issue, he explained.

“Some businesses are of the view that they’re not eligible, but they need to realise that even if they only paid €500 or €1,000 in rates in 2019, they could still be eligible for €2,000,” he said.

Those who were in rates arrears were also entitled to the grant, said Mr Deery, adding that as long as a business had a rates liability in 2019, they could apply for the grant.

“The payment have just started being paid out to those who applied about two months ago, so it has been slow in terms of progressing those applications.

“What I would be saying to small businesses is that they would need to sell a lot of cups of coffee or a lot of sandwiches to make €2,000 or €5,000 in profit,” said Mr Deery.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway embraces Mass changes

Stephen Corrigan

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Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford wearing a mask during the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Kinvara, on Saturday evening. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Parishioners in Kinvara made a long-awaited return to weekend services on Saturday at St Joseph’s Church, and while it was far from business as usual, mass-goers expressed delight at their return to the church.

Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford said while there were necessary changes to what people would be accustomed to, the congregation was understanding of why that was necessary and thankful that the implementation of these measures meant they could return to services after a four-month absence.

As part of Phase 3 of the easing of restrictions, services of up to 50 people were allowed, and to respect physical distancing, that meant two seats in every three were blocked off, said Fr Hugh.

“Households can sit together, but at the moment, we have the limit of 50 people, but we hope that will change in the next phase. We have to advise people who are more vulnerable that they should consider staying at home for the time being,” he explained.

The obligation to attend Mass has been lifted since the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis, continued Fr Hugh, meaning that people need not worry if they are unable to attend.

For the Eucharist, the Priest and Eucharistic Ministers wear face coverings and use hand sanitiser to ensure there is no cross-contamination, with Communion administered to people in their seats, said Fr Hugh.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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