Tuesday, 5 February 2019
JobPath Programme: Motion [Private Members]
I dtús báire, ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a chur in iúl as a bheith in ann labhairt ar an rún seo anocht. Tréaslaím le mo chomhghleacaithe, Teachta John Brady agus Teachta Denise Mitchell, as an cheist seo a chur chun tosaigh sa Dáil anocht. As the Minister of State is aware, JobPath began in July 2015. It was heralded at that time by Government as the panacea to the problem of unemployment and getting jobseekers back to work. Yet JobPath has been blighted and marred by controversy since its inception because rather than providing proper investment in community-based job activation the scheme facilitated the transfer of taxpayers' money to private companies which have been tasked with administrating it, Turas Nua and Seetec. These two companies between them have received €149 million of taxpayers' money as of November last.
In Donegal my constituents speak to me time and again of the indignity of being "simply like another number" in JobPath. Some claim that there was little consideration ever given to their needs or the valuable skills and experience they can offer and bring to the workplace. That sums up JobPath in its entirety. Níl aon aird á tabhairt ag JobPath ar riachtanais na ndaoine atá ag freastal air. Maíonn rannpháirtithe gur scéim neamhphearsanta amach is amach é. The fact that just 9% of those referred to the programme as of November last year secured employment through a minimum of 12 months also speaks volumes.
Separately, we know that JobPath's effect on other schemes is also alarming. Community employment schemes, for example, have experienced cut after cut under this Government. In my county, Donegal, between 2012 and 2016 the number of projects supported was reduced by almost 18% placing Donegal among the top five counties for CE schemes cuts both in terms of numbers of projects, losses and overall percentage reduction of projects. When will the Minister of State accept and admit that JobPath has failed jobseekers? While he says tonight that this will help the Minister in future deliberations, the Dáil is telling him tonight that JobPath must end. Rather than line the pockets of private enterprise I call on him to support this motion tonight and call for the immediate cessation of any further referrals to the service. The privatisation of job activation was wrong. It was wrong when it was established under the Labour Party in 2015. It is wrong now and it must be brought to an end. I call on all Deputies to support the motion brought forward by Deputy Brady tonight. In doing so we will send a clear signal to jobseekers that we as legislators support them and stand by them. That is the message the Dáil is sending this Government tonight. It needs to listen to the majority in this House if it cherishes democracy.