The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Social Protection and the Minister for Education and Skills today (18th July 2013) launched Pathways to Work 2013, the Government's 50-point action plan to fight long-term unemployment.
The plan will build on the progress made over the past year by the Government to tackle the unemployment challenge. The economy has stabilised and the private sector is now creating 2,000 jobs a month. Unemployment fell to 292,000 in the first quarter of 2013, representing a decrease of 29,900 over the previous 12 months. The unemployment rate is currently 13.7%, down from 14.9% in April 2012.
While this progress is encouraging, tackling unemployment will remain the Government's priority for the foreseeable future. Pathways to Work 2013 outlines how this will be done, with a specific focus on combatting long-term unemployment. The 50-point action plan builds on Pathways to Work 2012, and will involve a range of Government Departments and State Agencies working in tandem to tackle the scourge of long-term unemployment.
Speaking at the launch in Digital Skills Academy, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: "The fight against unemployment is this Government's number one priority. Ireland has a long history of failing to deal with long-term unemployment and this Government is determined to make the reforms necessary to ensure we get Ireland working again. Dealing with this issue will require a co-ordinated response from across State services that we simply have to deliver. Gainful employment, not long-term welfare dependency, must become the only sustainable route out of poverty. The 50-point Pathways to Work plan is a big step in the right direction in the State's fight against long-term unemployment."
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said: "Our job – the job of this Government – every single day, is to bring about recovery. For me, that means an Ireland where every person who can work has the opportunity to do so. That every young person, leaving school or college, knows that they can make a life for themselves in their own country. That is what recovery looks like. The recovery that we are working for is a recovery for all of our people – one that is felt in every town and every suburb where there are people out of work. A recovery where an increase in jobs translates into a reduction in the number of people who are long-term unemployed. As a society, as well as an economy, our promise has to be that we will not leave people behind."
Minister Burton said: "My Department must provide both a safety net for those who need it but also a springboard back to work. Since coming to office, I have focused on transforming the Department from a passive benefits provider to a public employment service that is actively assisting people back to work, training or education. That work is paying off – the Live Register has fallen for 12 months in a row, and the Pathways to Work strategy is making a key difference. But there is a long way to go. Pathways to Work 2013 builds on the work done to date, and will accelerate the fight against long-term unemployment. Our core aim is to engage with every unemployed person to make sure that their first day out of a job is also their first step on the pathway back to work."
Minister Quinn said: "To complement Pathways to Work 2013 my Department will continue to invest in further education and training sectors through the introduction and development of targeted programmes for jobseekers. My Department recently launched Skills Plus that brings together a range of initiatives to provide jobseekers with skills that are in demand in sectors of the economy where job opportunities exist. Skills Plus includes the Springboard programme; programmes run by Skillnets; the Momentum Programme; and the ICT skills conversion initiative introduced as part of the ICT Action Plan."
The 50 actions in Pathways to Work 2013 are designed to deliver:
- A greater number of places on employment and training schemes for people who are long-term unemployed.
- A set of more attractive recruitment incentives for employers, such as JobsPlus, the new scheme which offers employers fixed cash grants to hire persons who have been long-term unemployed.
- Accelerated roll-out of the full Intreo work activation service nationwide, which offers jobseekers their income and employment supports in "one-stop shops".
- Much greater engagement by the private, community, voluntary and not-for-profit sectors in the delivery of employment services.
- A more effective interplay between welfare payments, tax and in-work payments to reduce welfare traps and make work pay.
- A staged roll-out of a Youth Guarantee so that young unemployed people will, when the guarantee is fully rolled out, receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.
The Department of Social Protection is the lead Department on Pathways to Work, which complements the Government's Action Plan for Jobs. The Action Plan for Jobs is designed to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, jobs-rich economy, while Pathways to Work aims to ensure that as many as possible of those newly created jobs go to people on the Live Register.
The Government will monitor the impact of the Pathways to Work strategy on an ongoing basis, with performance reports to be published on a quarterly basis. A set of 10 key performance indicators (KPIs) has been designed for this purpose.
As mentioned above, Pathways to Work 2013 builds on measures implemented successfully to date in Pathways 2012, including:
- The launch of the new Intreo model, marking a fundamental transformation in how the Department of Social Protection supports and assists jobseekers.
- The roll-out of group engagements and individual profiling, which is now fully operational in all Department of Social Protection offices in advance of the full roll-out of the Intreo service. Over 110,000 people have received group engagement and individual profiles have been captured in respect of over 150,000 people.
- Over 18,000 people have participated in JobBridge, the national internship scheme, with an independent evaluation by Indecon Economic Consultants underscoring the success of the scheme.
- The successful negotiations, brokered by Ireland during its Presidency of the Council of the EU, on an EU-wide Youth Guarantee to tackle youth unemployment.
Today's launch took place at Digital Skills Academy, based at the Digital Hub in Dublin. Digital Skills Academy is the innovative education provider of digital content, technology and game development programmes. The Academy's programmes are designed in consultation with industry to supply industry-ready talent for the growing employment opportunities in the digital technology sector. Over 70% of Digital Skills Academy's recent programme participants are now successfully in the workplace. The Academy's WebElevate, WebActivate and TechElevate programmes are funded by the Department of Education and Skills through the Government's Springboard and Momentum programmes, both key elements of the Pathways strategy.
Pathways to Work 2013 is available at www.welfare.ie.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Department of Social Protection Press Office
Phone: 01 7043860 or 087 254 7232
Twitter: twitter.com/welfare_ie #pathways2013
Pathways to Work performance indicators (KPIs)
As mentioned above, 10 key performance indicators have been designed for this strategy. These are:
- Move 75,000 long-term unemployed people into employment by the end of 2015.
- Increase by 50% the exit rate of people who have been on the Live Register for two years or more.
- Reduce the rate at which short-term unemployed people become long-term unemployed from 31% to 25% in 2015.
- Increase the percentage of vacancies filled with the involvement of the Department of Social Protection's Employment Services to 15% by the end of 2015.
- Complete personal profiles of all 422,900 people on the Live Register this year to help tailor personalised employment supports for them.
- Provide group information/engagement sessions to jobseekers, with 85,000 jobseekers to receive such engagement this year.
- Conduct initial one-to-one guidance interviews with jobseekers, with 185,000 such interviews to be carried out this year.
- Fill the 10,000 additional Department of Social Protection-funded Community Employment, Tús, JobBridge and Local Government Social Employment scheme places announced in Budget 2013. The additional places mean that more than €1 billion will be spent by the Department this year on work, training and education places to benefit 85,000 people.
- Accelerate the roll-out of Intreo offices, the one-stop shops where jobseekers can get their income supports and their employment supports in the one place for the first time. Thirty-three new offices will be completed by the end of this year, bringing the total to 43.
- Make a range of FAS, further education and higher education programmes available to the meet the needs of the long-term unemployed, involving 51,000 places.