Pathways to Work 2016

Print page


The Government is driving a strong economic recovery and the number of people in work will shortly exceed two million. Ireland has made significant progress since the nadir of the jobs crisis, when unemployment peaked at over 15%. The Pathways to Work (PtW) strategy 2012 - 2015 has played a key role in this progress. The goal of Pathways is simple: to ensure that as many jobs as possible go to people on the Live Register. The strategy has been successful in contributing to a reduction of circa 38% in the number of people unemployed during that period. The overall rate of unemployment has now fallen to 8.8%. However that remains too high, and more work must be done. In particular, the number of people on the Live Register for more than 12 months, at approximately 150,000, means that long-term unemployment continues to have a scarring effect on the lives of individuals and families and presents a significant challenge to our society and our economy.


The Government is determined to address this challenge and has set out its stall in the Action Plan for Jobs 2016, which seeks to generate the jobs that will deliver full employment. It outlines a series of actions to secure the gains already made and deliver the Government target to have 2.1 million people in employment by 2018, and to achieve the ambitious longer term goal of 2.18 million people at work by 2020 as set out in the Government's Enterprise 2025 strategy. However, experience from other recoveries tells us that job creation of itself is not sufficient to generate full employment. Even at the peak of our Celtic Tiger boom about 150,000 people were in receipt of jobseeker payments. A further 200,000 or so people in the prime of what should have been their working lives (25 – 60) were in receipt of other welfare payments, such as the one-parent family payment (OFP) and disability payments, and were, in effect, excluded from the labour market.


Mindful of this experience, and determined to ensure that nobody should be left behind by our economic recovery, the Government mandated that a new Pathways strategy be developed to cover the five year period to the end of 2020. As part of the process of developing this strategy, the Government engaged in a comprehensive round of consultations with stakeholders and front-line workers engaged in the delivery of employment services to unemployed people. This new strategy reflects the views and ideas gathered during this process as well as taking account of inputs from across all of Government and from agencies such as the OECD and advisory bodies such as the Labour Market Council.


It is clear from all of these inputs that the strategy for 2016 to 2020 should reflect a shift in focus from ‘activation in a time of recession’ to ‘activation in a time of recovery and growth’ and in this regard should have two main objectives.

  • First, to continue and consolidate the progress made to date with an initial focus on working with unemployed jobseekers, in particular people who are long-term unemployed.
  • Second, to extend the approach of activation to other people who, although not classified as unemployed jobseekers, have the potential and the desire to play a more active role in the labour force.

This approach, outlined below and reflected in the detailed actions in each strand, is at the heart of Pathways to Work 2016 – 2020. Together with Enterprise 2025, the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities (both published in 2015) and the Further Education and Training Strategy published in 2014, the new National Skills Strategy to be published early this year and the new Action Plan for Jobs, Pathways to Work will ensure that Ireland’s workforce is not just fully employed but is equipped to respond flexibly to the demands of a growing economy.


Download the report in full (PDF, 670KB)

Last modified:26/09/2017