Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Ceisteanna (Atógáil) - Questions (Resumed) - Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
73. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason persons are being referred to JobPath for a second time having already completed the scheme in full; the number of persons that have been referred for a second time; the associated costs involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47050/18]
JobPath is one of our more successful activation services. It supports the long-term unemployed in securing and sustaining full-time paid employment. Jobseekers are referred to the service by means of a selection process.
A person who has previously completed a year with JobPath is referred back to an Intreo case officer. This is in-house, so to speak. If after six months, he or she has not found sustainable employment or is not engaged in education, training or with any other employment support we offer, he or she may be randomly reselected to go back on JobPath. Jobseekers referred for a second time will start working again with a personal adviser, who will review their development during their previous time with the service. Together they will prepare a new personal progression plan to build on that progress. The actions and tasks agreed will be based on their previous engagement, with particular focus on the identified barriers that prevented them from moving into full-time suitable employment during the first 12-month stint.
Since 2015, more than 193,000 jobseekers have engaged with JobPath. Of these, 15,000 have been referred to the service for a second time.
JobPath providers receive a registration fee each time they register a jobseeker for the service and the balance of their fees are paid subject to their clients achieving sustained full-time employment for a minimum of 13 weeks.
There is no separate costing structure for jobseekers who are referred to the service for a second time. The Department does not release details of fees paid to JobPath providers as these are commercially sensitive. To do so would place the State at a disadvantage both in terms of the contracts currently in place and, in particular, in any procurement that may be undertaken in this area.
Turas Nua and Seetec must be rubbing their hands together and laughing with glee. The Minister implied in her answer that they are getting paid a second time when people sign the personal progression plan. What is the figure for this? How much is being paid out for the 15,000 people referred for a second time?
What is the difference between the training in the first stint, which has not worked in finding jobs for the 15,000 people, and that in the second? I have spoken to many of those referred for a second time and they say they are doing the exact same a second time round, namely learning how to write a curriculum vitae and engaging in other meaningless tasks. There are being put in front of a computer and told to find themselves jobs. The service did not work the first time round and it certainly did not work the second time round. Could I have the figures? The argument about commercial sensitivity does not wash. The service is costing us millions of euro. Issues are clearly arising, and I have raised them with the Minister on many occasions.
The Deputy has an ideological problem with JobPath. To answer his question, it is interesting that the vast majority of representations I receive from Deputies ask me to intervene directly with people on community employment schemes for a number of years and who desperately want to stay on them for a number of years. It is one of our successful activation processes. A large number of members from the Deputy's party have asked me specifically to intervene to allow people to stay for longer periods in community employment and activation processes than would normally be allowed, yet he has a problem with what is probably the most successful activation scheme and process we have ever had.
I am answering the Deputy's question. If he does not like the answer, that is fine. This is the most successful activation programme we have ever run in the history of this State, yet the Deputy has a problem with people getting a second chance to participate in it. He does not have a problem, however, with people getting a second chance on the community employment scheme or Tús, which is incredible.
The service works. The reason we send people back for a second time is that they want to do so. They want to work. Despite the recommendations or protestations of Sinn Féin, the people on the live register want to work and avail of the assistance of any arm of the State to secure a full-time job.
The Minister and I will probably never see eye to eye on the privatisation of the sector. The two companies are rubbing their hands together with glee. The Minister failed to answer the questions I put to her on the training given to a person referred for a second time round. There is no difference whatsoever between the training on the first occasion and the second?
Do the State and Department have a responsibility to continue to feed agreed numbers to the two companies until the contracts with them expire? The State is running out of people to feed this monster that it has created. The Department is obliged under contract to continue to feed the two companies. That is why the 15,000 people have been referred for a second time. I could show the Minister dozens of cases in which people do not want to be in the service for a second time. They feel their time is being wasted by being referred for a second time. The Minister is saying people want to participate but that is not true.
We have conducted an econometric review of the JobPath service in collaboration with the OECD so I can have factual data allowing me to have these kinds of conversations. Every time we have oral questions, Deputy Brady brings anecdotal evidence as to how desperately people are treated on JobPath, yet it is undoubtedly one of the most successful activation programmes we have had in the history of the State. I would love to say we are running out of people to put on JobPath. I am pleased that the number unemployed is under 200,000 but there are still 200,000 people in this country who have no work and who want to work and avail of the assistance of any arm of the State that will train them, give them education and experience and assist them in getting a full-time job. The Deputy is ideologically opposed to JobPath. He would rather see people on the ground living on €198 per week. That is what keeps him happy.
I have no idea why he feels that way. The people we are supporting are getting full-time jobs. I am thankful that the number unemployed is coming down. With some 198,000 people on the live register, we are far from running out of people to send to JobPath.