Tánaiste addresses Consultation Forum to help Pathways to Work employment strategy

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A special Consultation Forum was held in Dublin Castle this morning (Friday, 9 October) to explore key issues and labour market priorities and develop policy actions to inform the new Pathways to Work 2016–2020 Strategy.  The Forum was attended by representatives of the Department of Social Protection, the INOU, IBEC and other key stakeholders and was a follow-up to a survey of over 200 stakeholders conducted over the summer months. Pathways to Work is the employment strategy, first launched in 2012 and updated regularly since then, to help jobseekers back to work.

Addressing the Forum, the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, T.D. said: “The next phase of the Pathways strategy will be about building on success. When the Government took office, unemployment was soaring and would eventually peak at over 15%.  Pathways to Work was our response to that. Through the strategy, we transformed the Department of Social Protection from the passive benefits provider of old to an active and engaged public employment service. The results are clear.  The numbers in work have now reached over 1.96 million and unemployment has fallen to 9.4%. Long term unemployment has fallen from 9.5% to 5.5%, and youth unemployment has fallen from 33% to 22%. But we still have much work to do and that’s where Pathways to Work 2016-2020 comes in.

The Government’s targets of over 2 million jobs and full employment in 2018 will not happen by themselves.  That means creating jobs and helping jobseekers avail of those jobs through the Pathways to Work approach.” 
 “The purpose of today’s event is to give key stakeholders an opportunity to say what they think should be included in the Pathways to Work strategy for the next five years.” 

The Tánaiste told the Forum that addressing long-term unemployment and youth unemployment must remain priorities for the coming years.  It is critical, she said, that the processes and services introduced by the Government over the past three years are consistently applied and of high quality. 

Today’s event gave stakeholders the opportunity to consider how best to move beyond ‘activation for a recession economy’ and to help reframe labour market policy for a recovering economy.   The Tánaiste also noted that a significant opportunity in the next Pathways to Work is not only to help people getting a jobseeker’s payment, but also other people who would like to work but face difficulties in getting employment by virtue of their personal circumstances, whether that be caring responsibilities or a disability. 

“Some people start from a viewpoint that people who are unemployed do not want to work, that they have chosen for a life on welfare. That is not my experience. Overwhelmingly people want to work. We saw that before the recession when unemployment was under 4%. We see it now in the numbers returning to work. However opportunities are not equal; people who have been long term unemployed, young-people who, due to the recession, may not have had a chance to work, people with caring responsibilities and people with disabilities all face major barriers in getting a chance to prove their worth in employment. This is what we need to turn our attention to now.”

The outcome form the forum will be considered by Government as it drafts a new Pathways to Work strategy for 2016 – 2020. It is expected that this strategy will be published by January 2016.

Last modified:09/10/2015