Breakthrough reforms, enhanced employer engagement and rigorous evaluation needed to sustain progress on Pathways to Work according to Labour Market Council

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Breakthrough reforms, enhanced employer engagement and rigorous evaluation needed to sustain progress on Pathways to Work according to Labour Market Council

A new employers’ charter, rapid roll out of Youth Guarantee and effective coordination between the further education sector and employment services among key report recommendations

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, 6 Kildare Street, Dublin 2, 1.15 pm. Wednesday 30th April

The Labour Market Council has today published its first interim report on Pathways to Work 2013, the Government’s action plan to tackle unemployment.

The Council has noted the progress made in reducing unemployment since the introduction of Pathways to Work and has made a number of recommendations including more rigorous evaluation of the initiative and results, more ambitious targets for reducing long-term unemployment and greater employer engagement.

The Council, established in September 2013, chaired by Mr Martin Murphy, MD of HP Ireland, is an independent group of leading industry and policy experts appointed by the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, to drive the speedy implementation of Pathways to Work, advise on future Pathways strategies and on wider labour market and employment policy.

The Council’s report was published at a press conference today led by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn, and Mr Murphy.

In its report, the Council notes that “significant progress” has been made against key targets in Pathways to Work 2013, in particular the development of reformed employment services to jobseekers. The Council also notes that while it is too early to draw definitive conclusions on the underlying causes for the recent improvement in the labour market, the upturn in employment is both significant and welcome.

Unemployment has fallen from a crisis peak of 15.1% to 11.7% and long-term unemployment is down from over 9% to 7.2%.  In 2013, 26,111 long-term unemployed people returned to work, exceeding the Government’s original target of 20,000, and overall, since 2012, more than 46,000 long-term unemployed people have returned to work.

The Council advises that the Department will need to work harder to support and encourage employers to offer jobs to those jobseekers who are most distant from the labour market. 

The Council recommends that the following measures be introduced into Pathways to Work;   

  1. That all parts of the Government as well as business and wider society give priority over the next 12 months to addressing the high levels of unemployment and to accelerating the progress which has been made in expanding employment.
  2. That the Government continue to prioritize effective activation policies and other measures that reduce long-term unemployment and ensure the provision of an excellent service to unemployed people.
  3. That the Government reach the 2014 target of moving 22,500 long-term unemployed into employment at a minimum. The Council believes a more ambitious target of 30,000 should be considered.
  4. That increased action be taken on employer engagement and that much greater employer buy-in be achieved through a new Employers’ Charter.
  5. That additional emphasis be given to examining the evidence on whether Pathways to Work is having a measurable impact on the labour market and developing robust evaluation of the effectiveness of the range of initiatives and programmes aimed at helping the unemployed get access to work.
  6. That the Government consider benchmarking the performance of individual Intreo offices as this could have a positive “peer-pressure” effect.
  7. That the Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan be rolled out as a matter of urgency, given that youth unemployment is still very high despite recent reductions.
  8. That the JobPath selection process be completed and service delivery commence before end of 2014.
  9. The Council recommends ongoing work to ensure a better alignment between the education and training sectors and the skills required by employers, and supports the need for fundamental reforms in further education and training. The Council recommends that the Department of Education and Skills put in place interim implementation arrangements to expedite the introduction of a new apprenticeship model.

Council chairman Mr Murphy said:  the Council provides a very effective and constructive forum for maintaining a strong focus on implementing the Pathways 2013 action plan.  The success of the past year is welcome but such is the scale of the problem, especially long term unemployment, it is essential that we keep up that momentum. 

Martin Murphy added: as a Council we have indicated our intention to focus on rigorous evaluation of programmes and processes in order to ensure that the limited resources available are being put to best use and delivering the best outcomes for all.  We also intend to build on very good engagement with employers in recent months and harness the undoubted goodwill of many employers towards hiring from the Live Register.  We want to see maximum progress on initiatives like Job Path and the Youth Guarantee that have the potential to make significant contributions to the effort to reduce unemployment in key groups.

He concluded: the council will also continue to press for optimum integration of services and programmes from all Departments for employers and jobseekers alike so that the combined impact of programmes and services are maximised."


The Employers’ Charter

Developing closer links with employers and supporting them in generating job opportunities is a key objective of the Pathways to Work initiative.  The Council is developing a Charter, which commits employers to prioritising recruitment of candidates from the Live Register and to working with unemployed jobseekers and jobseeker support organisations to assist in developing the skills and competencies required to find employment.  It is intended that the Charter will initially be signed by the 50 largest companies in the State who can use the skills of the unemployed/long- term unemployed.  The Charter will be launched in June. The Council believes that this is an important flagship initiative which must be supported through the new Intreo service.



Notes to Editors:

The Labour Market Council’s terms of reference are:

Monitoring the implementation of the Pathways to Work 2013 strategy.

Identifying key issues arising from the implementation of the strategy and suggesting possible policy and/or operational responses.

Providing input to and feedback on strategies to increase employer and jobseeker awareness of, and engagement with, the various initiatives identified in the strategy.

Providing input to and feedback on the design and implementation of the Youth Guarantee for Ireland.

Providing input to and feedback on the development of the JobPath contracting model.

Providing insights and experience relating to wider policy issues relevant to developments in the labour market generally, including employment trends, skills, training and workforce developments.

Contributing to developing the wider public awareness of the Pathways to Work strategy.

Providing the Minister for Social Protection and the Government with input to and feedback on revisions to and further development of the Pathways to Work strategy during 2014.

Publishing an annual statement outlining the Council’s findings.

The Council will also advise the Minister for Social Protection and the Government on wider policy issues relevant to the employment agenda of supporting long-term unemployed people to return to work.

The Council will meet every six weeks, and present its views on an ongoing basis to the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Pathways to Work.

The Council will be supported in its work by the Department of Social Protection and other relevant Government Departments responsible for the Pathways to Work strategy (including the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation).

The Labour Market Council members are:

Martin Murphy, MD Hewlett Packard Ireland – Council Chairman

Tony Keohane, Chairman, Tesco Ireland

Martin Costello  – Group HR Manager, Glanbia

Heather Reynolds – Chief Executive, Eishtec

Frank Ryan – Chairman of IDA Ireland

Alan Gray – Managing Director, Indecon International Economic Consultants

John Martin – Former Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD

Philip O'Connell – Director, Geary Institute, UCD

Marie Sherlock – Economic Adviser, SIPTU

Tony Donohoe – Head of Education and Social Policy, IBEC

Bríd O'Brien – Head of Policy and Media, INOU

Kevin Empey, Head of HR Consulting, Towers Watson


Media contacts:

For further information on the Labour Market Council and to arrange interviews with the chairman Martin Murphy and other spokespersons, contact Drury Porter Novelli

Maria Hynes 0871233088

Martha Kavanagh 0876462006

Main office 012605000


For further information on Pathways to Work, contact the Department of Social Protection press office:

Veronica Scanlan

T: 01 7043847 or 087 2549683


Last modified:30/04/2014

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