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Minister Burton welcomes allocation of Irish Water jobs for persons on the Live Register

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., has today (26th July 2013) welcomed the commitment by Irish Water to reserve a significant portion of jobs on its nationwide metering programme for persons who are unemployed.

Irish Water today announced the creation of 1,600 jobs as part of the metering programme. The jobs will be available across the country and recruitment begins immediately, with 10% of the new positions earmarked for persons on the Live Register, another 10% for small and medium enterprises, and 5% for apprentices, graduates and school leavers.

Minister Burton said: “Today’s announcement by Irish Water is very welcome, and I would like to see this replicated across all major public contracts.

“Job vacancies are frequently filled by persons who are already in employment but wish to move. People who are out of work can find it very difficult to compete, particularly if they are long-term unemployed, as research shows employers are often reluctant to hire from the Live Register, despite the skills mix and talent of people on it.

“That is why the commitment by Irish Water to reserve a significant portion of the new positions for persons on the Live Register is so important. I would like to see similar commitments in all future major public contracts. That is why, separate to today’s announcement, the Government will examine if social clauses can be included in future such contracts – meaning the successful bidder would be required to allocate a portion of jobs to persons on the Live Register.”

Earlier this month, Minister Burton, together with Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, and the Minister for Education and Skills, launched Pathways to Work 2013, the Government's 50-point action plan to fight long-term unemployment.

As one of the key action points in Pathways 2013, the Government will conduct and evaluate a pilot programme on social clauses in the procurement of public works.

The pilot will help determine if social clauses should be rolled out in major public contracts. Other measures in Pathways 2013 include JobsPlus, the new scheme incentivising employers to hire persons from the Live Register.

JobsPlus is focused on people who are long-term unemployed, and will see the State cover approximately €1 in €4 of the typical cost of hiring someone who has been on the Live Register for 12 months or more.

The incentive is payable, on a monthly basis, over a two-year period and will provide two levels of payment:

· a payment of €7,500 over two years to the employer for each person recruited who has been unemployed for between 12 and 24 months; and

· €10,000 over two years to the employer for each person recruited who has been unemployed for more than 24 months.

Minister Burton said: “Tackling unemployment will remain the Government's number one priority for the foreseeable future, as our social and economic future hinges on getting people back to work. While there is a long way to go, we are making progress - the unemployment rate, at 13.6%, is down from a peak of 15.1% in early 2012. Today’s announcement by Irish Water, the pilot programme on social clauses, and innovative schemes such as JobsPlus, will further assist in that goal.”