There has been a lot said about FÁS in the last while.
For those who don’t know, FÁS is a state training agency in Ireland that is famous for spending public money on itself, and precious little on training.
I happen to know a little about the place as Frank, a very close friend of mine had some insight knowledge.
A few years ago, Frank heard there was an opening in FÁS for a temporary teacher, so he applied even though the job wasn’t advertised. He went for an interview and met Tom who was the teacher that Frank was supposed to be replacing. The interview apparently went very well, and Tom introduced Frank to Bill who was the head of the department. Bill proceeded to interview Frank and the upshot was that he got the job, on the spot. Frank was to replace Tom, whenever Tom was on leave.
Being a sensible sort of chap, Frank asked when he was supposed to start work. Bill looked at Tom, and Tom looked at Bill. “When do you want to take leave?” Bill asked Tom. “Next week?” replied Tom. “I could do with a couple of weeks.” And so it was settled. Frank was to start work the following week.
Monday dawned. Well, it didn’t actually as the classes started very early and Frank lived a long way from FÁS so he was up long before dawn, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, he arrived at FÁS and met Bill who was to show him around the place, and was to introduce him to the class who were already a few weeks into their course.
Everything went smoothly and Frank was in the middle of getting to know the class when who should walk into the class but Tom, the teacher he was supposed to replace. Tom had a little office at the back of the class, so at coffee break time, Frank had a quick word with Tom.
“Aren’t you supposed to be on leave?” asked Frank.
“I am on leave,” said Tom.
“Then what the fuck are you doing in this place?” asked Frank who was a little bewildered at this stage.
“It gives me a chance to catch up on some personal stuff,” replied Tom.
Tom apparently decided he needed a three week break, so for three weeks, Frank taught the class while Tom sat in his office playing games on his computer. Frank was a bit mystified by this, but he was earning in excess of €1,000 a week which was extremely generous for those times, and considerably more than Tom was earning, so he didn’t question things.
Everything went very well, and at the end of the three weeks, Frank said his farewells to the class, and that was that.
Or so he thought.
A month later, he got a call from Tom, asking if he would like to do another three weeks. Frank said he would indeed, and the whole process was repeated. For three more weeks, Frank taught the class on his handsome salary, while Tom played computer games in his office. It was quite apparent that Frank was taken on any time Tom just didn’t feel like teaching.
Frank worked for FÁS for several years. He did around twelve weeks a year, and on only one occasion did Tom actually go away. Frank actually found it quite strange teaching the class without Tom being present.
I don’t know how much Frank earned over the years, but it was a considerable sum. And when you consider that FÁS were paying Tom as well, and that the latter was turning up every day but just not teaching, it was quite a waste of money [not that Frank complained].