To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will provide details of training courses available for unemployed persons who had been self-employed and now wish to upskill; her views that every opportunity should be provided to all persons wishing to upskill in order to re-enter the workforce; if there are plans to allow greater access to training courses to all unemployed persons, irrespective of their previous occupation; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Anthony Lawlor.
* For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 17th November, 2015.
R E P L Y
The unemployed, including those who were formerly self-employed, have access to the full range of standard training courses. There are some exceptions in respect of special programmes developed and delivered specifically for long-term unemployed people, such as Momentum, or for people with disabilities but these represent just a small proportion of the overall number of places available.
In general the only difference between people unemployed and in receipt of a welfare payment and other unemployed people not in receipt of a welfare payment is that those people who were in receipt of a social welfare payment prior to commencing training will receive a training allowance, which is generally equivalent to the welfare payment they were receiving. People who were not in receipt of a welfare payment prior to commencing training will not, in most cases, qualify for a training allowance; however they may be eligible for payment towards travel and meals costs associated with their attendance at a training course.
It is important to note however that the vast majority of unemployed people who were formerly self-employed do in fact receive a welfare payment. The Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare found that almost 9 out of 10 of those previously self-employed who claimed the means tested jobseeker’s allowance during the three-year period from 2009 to 2011 received payment.
Finally, with regard to the range of courses provided, training courses for unemployed people wishing to up-skill or re-skill are delivered as part of the range of programmes provided by Education and Training Boards and funded by Solas. The range of training provided is a matter for the ETBs, Solas and the Department of Education and Skills, after consultation with the Department of Social Protection and other stakeholders, including employers. The range of courses that are currently available can be found on the SOLAS website.