Community Employment (CE) has its origins in 1994. At the time long-term unemployment was undermining the employability of many individuals and the capacity of communities to function as cohesive social structures. The alienation experienced by the long-term unemployed often reflected a sense of disempowerment in their communities. CE acted as a resource for communities to identify their own needs and priorities and over the years became a vital service to communities both in remote rural areas and areas of urban disadvantage. It developed into a unique programme that integrates employment interventions and training for the individual with community services. The programme addresses the multiple needs of people who are often far from ‘employment ready’ and experiencing a range of social and economic problems by operating within local and community contexts and responding to the needs identified by a variety of community agencies.
From the 1st January 2012 responsibility for Community Employment transferred from FÁS to the Department of Social Protection (DSP), as part of a wider transfer of employment services and programmes (prior to this CE was managed solely by FÁS since its inception in 1994). The transfer of functions is intended to facilitate the delivery of a more effective and streamlined response to the needs of the unemployed. In particular, it will allow for a more coherent treatment of individuals in terms of income support, career guidance and assistance, and referral and access to training and employment programmes to assist progression into the labour market.
Activation policy has evolved over time and is now clearly focused on maximising the share of employment opportunities that are taken up by unemployed people through participation in training and employment programmes. The Department of Social Protection is committed to reforming CE to ensure delivery of service, value for money and progression of the individual. This work will take place in the context of the Government’s activation strategy most recently stated in Pathways to Work (2012).
The total expenditure for CE in 2011 was €349.4m and the number of CE places was 23,396 (this includes CE Supervisors); this provided €20m for Materials and €9.4m for Training. The original CE budget for 2012 was €315m for 23,300 places. Following the Budget and the concerns expressed by a range of stakeholders, the Minister for Social Protection initiated this Financial Review so that the impact of the proposed reductions in materials and training grants could be assessed and if necessary ameliorated.
Download the Review in Full (PDF, 307KB)