Minister Burton: Latest employment figures demonstrate success of Pathways to Work strategy

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61,000 more people at work and unemployment falling steadily

Pathways will be a crucial element of Government’s 2014 jobs drive

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, has today (27th February 2014) said that the Pathways to Work strategy will be central to the Government’s jobs drive in 2014 and beyond, with a special focus on tackling long-term and youth unemployment.

The Minister was speaking as the latest data from the Central Statistics Office showed that 61,000 more people were in jobs at the end of 2013, an employment increase of 3.3% on 2012. Unemployment fell by 41,400, or 14.1%, over the course of the year. Unemployment has now fallen for six successive quarters, with the overall unemployment rate falling to 12.1%.

Minister Burton said: "These figures demonstrate that the unrelenting Government drive to create jobs and get people back to work is succeeding. Unemployment has fallen from a crisis peak of 15.1% to 12.1% now, and we are firmly on track to get unemployment down below 10% by 2016.

"I am particularly heartened to see that long-term unemployment has fallen to 7.2%, compared with over 9% at the end of 2011. Last year, under thePathways to Work, strategy, I introduced a 50-point action plan to focus on long-term unemployment, and this is paying off. That focus will continue this year, and we will also progressively roll out the Youth Guarantee to tackle youth unemployment. We will build on the success of the Pathways strategy to date in reducing unemployment by ensuring that as many as possible of the newly created jobs in 2014 go to people on the Live Register."

Pathways to Work complements the Action Plan for Jobs 2014, launched today by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton. The Action Plan is designed to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, jobs-rich economy, while Pathways aims to ensure that as many as possible of those newly created jobs go to people on the Live Register.

As part of this whole-of-Government strategy in 2014, the Department of Social Protection will, through the Pathways strategy:
  • Report quarterly to Government on the progress on the 50-point action plan to tackle long-term unemployment;
  • Commence implementation of the Youth Guarantee;
  • Complete the roll-out of Intreo Centres, the one-stop shops where jobseekers get their employment and income supports in the one place for the first time;
  • Undertake a programme of structured engagement with the business sector, and build on the success of employer incentive schemes such as JobsPlus, to maximise recruitment from the Live Register;
  • Together with the Department of Education and other State agencies, launch an initiative to co-ordinate branding and improve awareness of the range of industry-focused skills programmes available to jobseekers. Brand will encompass Springboard, high-level ICT skills conversion courses, Momentum, Skillnets programmes, JobBridge and JobsPlus; and
  • Continue to remove disincentives for jobseekers to take up employment and education and training opportunities.

Minister Burton said: "These are just some of the measures that we will implement this year to further reduce unemployment. Central to this will be employers themselves. Already, the Department has a range of employer supports and services to help businesses expand and find the right recruits. We want employers in Ireland to follow the example of their counterparts in countries like Germany and Austria and be willing to give not alone young jobseekers but also long-term unemployed people work, training and apprenticeship opportunities.

"This is why I appointed a Labour Market Council of leading industry and policy experts, featuring representatives from some of Ireland’s biggest employers, to drive implementation of the Pathways strategy. The Council will help deepen our engagement with business, and advise on what further innovative actions can be taken across Government to increase employment. Already, the co-operation of employers to date through the Council has been hugely beneficial, as the Department widens its engagement with employers on a case-by-case and firm-by-firm basis and they see the advantages of the Pathways approach."

Today’s figures show that, since the lowest point of the employment crisis, the numbers at work have risen by 70,000, indicating that the the Government’s pledge to help create 100,000 new jobs by 2016 is well on track.

Minister Burton said: "Together with the Action Plan for Jobs overseen by my Cabinet colleague Minister Bruton, Pathways to Work is making a real difference in helping people back to work and building the economic recovery." ENDS

Last modified:27/02/2014