Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Community Employment Schemes Operation
1178. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an instruction will be issued to encourage flexibility to sponsors of community employment schemes in particular for persons over 60 years of age in view of the fact that they will not be able to get alternative work and in further view of the difficulties community employment schemes are having to fill all vacancies. [3768/20]
The aim of the Community Employment (CE) programme is to enhance the employability of disadvantaged and unemployed people by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their communities. The programme helps break the cycle of unemployment and improve a person’s chances of returning to the labour market. Participation on CE is intended to be for a temporary fixed-term. CE is generally open to applicants aged between 21 and 66 years.
A number of new conditions were introduced on CE in July 2017 to further support progression and broaden access to CE to a wider range of people.
In general all CE placements for new entrants aged between 21 and 55 years are for 1 year – however CE participants, working towards a major educational award, can seek to extend participation by up to two years to enable them to reach the required standard of qualification. In addition, those over 55 years of age can remain on CE for three years.
Participants aged 62 and over are allowed to participate on a continuous basis up to the State Pension age via the CE Service Support Stream (SSS), subject to the availability of places on the SSS, satisfactory performance by them on the CE scheme and, subject to annual approval by the Department.
In 2019, an Inter-Departmental Group (IDG) was convened to explore the most appropriate organisation arrangements, including which Department should host the Community Employment (CE) Social Inclusion schemes. The IDG report is nearing completion and includes a series of recommendations, a number of which may affect the particular cohort referred to by the Deputy. The IDG Report is due to be published shortly.