Following the publication last month of the policy review of the Employment Support Schemes provided by her Department to jobseekers, the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD today (Monday, 18th February 2013) conducted a consultation on the review to give stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the review and to make their views known.
The review, which is available at www.welfare.ie examines the current labour market context and the policies and programmes that exist within the Department of Social Protection to help people return to work.
Speaking with interested parties at the consultation, Minister Burton said: “This year, the Department will spend more than €1 billion on activation schemes and related supports to help people return to work, training or education. The schemes will benefit approximately 85,000 participants. This timely review examines how we can further improve these schemes to maximise outcomes and opportunities for participants. My Department is engaged in a programme of change to improve the employment support services it offers to jobseekers with a view to ensuring that they remain close to the labour market and can compete effectively for available job vacancies.”
Recent changes in the Department of Social Protection has brought together the services and supports previously provided by three distinct services – the Department of Social Protection, the Community Welfare Service and FÁS. This integration has facilitated the development of Intreo which provides jobseekers with a “one stop shop” service where they can get their income and employment supports in the one place.
Through regular and on-going engagement with people on the Live Register, the Department of Social Protection is providing access to opportunities for work, education and training by:
Ø more regular and on-going engagement with jobseekers including, for example, the provision of job search assistance and the development of a personal progression plan,
Ø greater targeting of activation places and opportunities,
Ø incentivising the take-up of opportunities, and
Ø incentivising employers to provide more jobs for people who are unemployed.
Minister Burton continued: “In Budget 2013, I secured an extra €11 million in funding for 10,000 additional activation places this year, including 2,000 additional Community Employment places, 2,500 new places on the Tús scheme, as well as 2,500 additional JobBridge places and 3,000 places on a new Local Authority Social Employment Scheme.
“At EU level, as chair of EPSCO for the duration of Ireland’s Presidency of the EU, I am committed to ensuring that the European Council Recommendation on a Youth Guarantee can be agreed at the formal Ministers’ council at the end of this month. Under such a Guarantee, a young person aged 15-24 would be guaranteed a job or education place within a set number of months of becoming unemployed.”
Minister Burton concluded her remarks by thanking all those who contributed to the debate on the best and most effective way of supporting jobseekers into employment: “I value the views and inputs of all contributors today. These views will help to inform policy as we seek to improve the supports for jobseekers from my Department.”
Interested parties who attended the consultation included groups representing jobseekers, people with disabilities, one parent families, carers, representatives of the voluntary and community sector, the business community, Government Departments and providers of training and education.