Pathways to Work update shows Government on track to get 75,000 long-term unemployed people back to work by end-2015

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Pathways to Work update shows Government on track to get 75,000 long-term unemployed people back to work by end-2015

Over 46,000 long-term unemployed people have returned to work since introduction of Pathways strategy

Update published as Live Register falls for 22nd successive month

The Government is on track to beat the target of helping 75,000 long-term unemployed people back into work by the end of 2015 through the Pathways to Work strategy. More than 46,000 long-term unemployed people have returned to work since the Pathways strategy, overseen by the Department of Social Protection, was introduced in 2012.

The figures are contained in a comprehensive update published today (Wednesday 30th April 2014) by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn.

It comes as separate data from the Central Statistics Office shows that the number of jobseekers on the Live Register has fallen to 388,559, a reduction of 29,034 or 7% on April 2013. This is the 22nd successive month in which the Live Register has fallen. The unemployment rate now stands at 11.7%, down from a crisis peak of 15.1%.

The Government published the first annual Pathways to Work strategy in 2012 and last year's strategy contained a dedicated 50-point action plan to tackle long-term unemployment.

Today's update outlines the progress made on implementation of Pathways to Work 2013. It shows that 44 of the 50 action points have been completed and that a further five will be completed ahead of the end-June deadline.*  Among the key actions completed are:

  • 44 Intreo Centres now open nationwide offering a "one-stop shop" where jobseekers can get income supports and employment supports in the one place for the first time
  • All jobseekers on the Live Register (circa 420,000 in 2013) profiled so that the Department can better tailor individualised employment supports for them
  • Youth Guarantee implementation plan developed and launched to provide enhanced work, training and education opportunities for jobseekers under the age of 25
  • JobsPlus wage subsidy scheme rolled out to help employers recruit from the Live Register; has already supported 1,800 new jobs
  • 10,000 additional places on work and training schemes rolled out by the Department of Social Protection
  • 11,500 places on Momentum and Springboard education schemes filled by the Department of Education
  • Backlogs in processing Family Income Supplement (FIS) claims eliminated. FIS helps families remain in work and build a better financial future for themselves by providing weekly tax-free top-up payments for employees on low pay with children. The Government will spend more than €280 million on the scheme this year, an increase of 25% since 2012.

Another of the 50 action points completed was the establishment by Minister Burton of an independent Labour Market Council of leading industry and policy experts to help drive the speedy implementation of Pathways to Work 2013 and advise on future Pathways strategies and wider labour market and employment policy.

At today's press conference, the Council, chaired by Mr Martin Murphy, MD of HP Ireland, also published its interim report. The report states that significant process has been made in terms of implementing the Pathways strategy and providing reformed employment services to jobseekers, but cautions that unemployment is still at unacceptably high levels and sets out a series of recommendations on how it can be further addressed (see separate Labour Market Council statement). The Council's recommendations will be considered in due course by the Cabinet Committee on Pathways to Work.

The Taoiseach said: "Long-term unemployment is the biggest challenge facing the country. The social and economic wellbeing of Ireland is dependent on getting people back to work and stopping the drift into long-term unemployment. It was obvious that the existing systems used by previous governments were no longer fit for purpose. The Pathways to Work strategy changed all that. While unemployment continues to fall, it is clear we still have a way to go. This year the strategy will focus on new challenges and opportunities. There will be the contracting of additional case workers, comprehensive reform of our further education and training sector and a renewed focus on ensuring that work always pays. Everyone should be better off in work rather than on welfare. Finally I also want to commend the valuable work that has been undertaken by the newly-formed Labour Market Council in advising Government."

The Tánaiste said: "In my view, Pathways to Work is the Government's flagship public sector reform, built around the needs of jobseekers, and the needs of the wider labour market. As such, it is a whole-of-government project, but I want to pay particular tribute to Joan Burton and her department for the work they have done over the past three years. And it is working. Unemployment is at 11.7% - its lowest in five years. Youth unemployment has fallen by 3%. Fewer people are becoming long-term unemployed, and since the introduction of Pathways, over 46,000 long-term unemployed people have moved off the Live Register and into work. As a Government, our job will not be finished until everyone who can work, has the opportunity to do so. That is what keeps us driving forward."

Minister Burton said: "What is particularly notable is that Ireland is bucking the trend – not only compared to other EU countries, but to past recoveries. Typically, economic recovery comes first and reductions in unemployment lag a considerable distance behind. In the 1990s, for example, there was a jobless recovery where it took five to six years of sustained economic growth before unemployment began to fall. This recovery is different in that jobs are being created and unemployment is falling as employers and jobseekers take advantage of the supports and services introduced and developed as part of the Pathways to Work approach. We are witnessing a job-rich recovery. But with unemployment still so high, so we have to increase the pace of our progress, and that is why we will act upon the Labour Market Council's recommendations as we prepare an updated Pathways to Work strategy for publication later this year. The Labour Market Council report doesn't give us an easy pass. It says rigorous evaluation of Pathways and continued reforms are necessary to ensure we are delivering for jobseekers. That's exactly as it should be. The updated Pathways strategy will focus on doing more to help people who are long-term unemployed and on significantly deepening our reach-out to employers."

Minister Quinn said: "Unemployment is a blight on individuals and communities. However, through the efforts of citizens, employers and this Government, jobs are now being created. The education and training system needs to focus on developing the generic and specific skills that employers require. We are doing this across the system, from schools to apprenticeships, from further education to cutting-edge research. I am confident in our people and I am determined that we do the very best for all current and future jobseekers."

Minister of State with responsibility for training and skills, Ciaran Cannon, said: "The education and training system has a key role to play in preparing unemployed people to compete successfully in the jobs market. Specific programmes to address the needs of unemployed people have been developed in both the higher and further education and training areas. We will build upon the good work of the last three years with the forthcoming publication by SOLAS of the five-year Further Education and Training Strategy.  The Strategy will set out a framework for how the further education and training sector can help jobseekers, school leavers and adult learners achieve their full potential."


Note to Editors:

* One Action Point – bringing forward proposals to address the findings of the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare with regard to working age income supports - will not be completed by the end-June deadline and will instead be carried over to the third quarter of this year, pending receipt of the AGTSW report. 

Pathways to Work:

The Department of Social Protection, working in tandem with the Department of Education and Skills, is the lead department on Pathways to Work, which complements the Government's Action Plan for Jobs.  Whereas the Action Plan for Jobs is designed to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, jobs-rich economy, Pathways to Work aims to ensure that as many as possible of those newly created jobs go to people on the Live Register. The first Pathways strategy was launched in 2012, with five key strands:

  • More on-going and intensive engagement with those who are unemployed.
  • Greater targeting of activation places and opportunities for those on the Live Register.
  • Removing disincentives for unemployed people to take up employment and other opportunities.
  • Incentivising employers to provide more services for those who are unemployed.
  • Reforming institutions to deliver better services.

Pathways to Work 2013 continued this five-strand approach and set out a 50-point action plan to tackle long-term unemployment.

Last modified:30/04/2014

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