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Labour market – new programmes outlined

The Minister of Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, told Mattie McGrath (independent, Tipperary S) that FAS employment services had now issued a call for expressions of interest by organizations in the Internship Development Programme (Dail Eireann, Debates, 12th April 2011, 870).  The scheme would provide, for people more than three months out of work, a 12-month work placement in a host organization for their upskilling.  They would receive an upskilling bonus on top of their social welfare payment.  5,000 places had been approved but their operation was entirely dependent on the number and capacity of host organizations.  So far, 169 organizations had expressed an interest and it was expected that the programme would be operational in the near future.

On the Work Placement Programme, the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, told Terenence Flanagan (FG, Dublin NE) that FAS statistics showed that of a sample of 628 participants, 133 left early, 25% got a job with the programme provider while 42% got a job elsewhere (Dail Eireann, Debates, 5th April 2011, 313-4).  The programme provides nine months unpaid experience to unemployed people, helping them to update their skills, add to their CV and hear about new jobs that may be available.  Even with a small sample, this showed that the programme helped people gain work experience and find employment.

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, told Willie O’Dea (FF, Limerick City) and Barry Cowen (FF, Laois Offaly) that streams of work were already under way to establish the integrated service of the new National Employment and Entitlements Service under her department (Dail Eireann, Debates, 19th April 2011, 505-6).  Community Welfare Officers would be fully integrated with the department by the end of September and the integration of the employment and community employment services of FAS would commence later this year.  They will use pro-active approaches and modern case management systems.  Pilot projects were already under way for case management, the identification of those most at risk of falling into long-term unemployment and for the improvement of information exchanges and communications.  The pilot projects would be completed and evaluated in coming months before nationwide rollout.  Later, she told Eoghan Murphy (FG, Dublin SE ) that the NEES would have responsibility for the payment of employment-related benefits and other benefits payable by the department, all part of a one-stop-shop approach to entitlements, employment and training (Dail Eireann, Debates, 21st April 2011, 903).  The focus would be on the individual, his or her rights to payment, access to employment, training, upskilling and engaging with opportunities, all designed to improve a person’s life chances.  She wanted to get the NEES under way in the most expeditious manner possible and many aspects of the new service would be delivered in the coming twelve months.  Responsibility for skills training and training services were with the Department of Education and Skills.

On the Tús programme, the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton told Charlie McConalogue (FF, Donegal NE) that promotion of Tús had been under way for some weeks and local development companies were currently recruiting supervisory staff (Dail Eireann, Debates, 14th April 2011, 310).  There were important differences between Tús and Community Employment in aims, participant selection, delivery, duration of engagement and training requirements, but the amounts paid to participants would be similar and they would maintain entitlement to certain secondary benefits.  They would be required to work 19.5 hours a week.

> Details of the participating bodies in the Tús programme and the number of places allocated to each, making the total of 5,000 (area partnerships – ed): Dail Eireann, Debates, 19th April 2011, 508-510.

> The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn informed Dara Calleary (FF, Mayo) that he had appointed, to the National Qualifications Authority, Audry Deane of the Society of St Vincent de Paul  (Dail Eireann, Debates, 12th April 2011, 870-1).

> Debates on education and training: Dail Eireann, Debates, 12th April 2011, 754-774; 13th April 2011, 104-122.