Question No: 78 Ref No: 25395-15
To the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the extent to which her Department continues to focus on the long term unemployed with a view to identifying the extent to which ongoing reduction may be achieved; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Bernard J. Durkan.
* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 24th June, 2015.
R E P L Y
Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Kevin Humphreys TD)
The Government’s primary strategy to reduce long-term unemployment is through policies to create the environment for a strong economic recovery by promoting competitiveness and productivity. Economic recovery will underpin jobs growth. This strategy has been succeeding; in the year up to Q1 2015 the annual increase in employment was 41,300 (+2.2%).
The long-term unemployment rate peaked at 9.5% in Q1 2012 before falling to 5.9% in Q1 2015. At the latter date, the long-term unemployed accounted for 59.8% of all those unemployed, down from almost 65% in early 2012.
Despite these improvements, the level of long-term unemployment, and in particular the situation of those who are very long-term unemployed (more than two years), continue to be of concern. The Pathways to Work Strategy therefore provides for enhanced engagement services and additional activation measures to jobseekers while the recovery takes hold. In addition to ongoing reforms, the 2015 iteration of the strategy prioritises additional measures to enhance engagement with the long-term unemployed. This includes a structured process of engagement with long-term unemployed people being referred to the activation process (Group Engagement followed by regular one-to-one case officer contact). Second, a new employment services model for the long-term unemployed, JobPath, will be rolled out in 2015. It is a payment by results contract model with third party providers of employment services that will provide additional capacity in order to engage more systematically with long-term unemployed jobseekers. Referrals to JobPath providers are expected to commence early in the second half of 2015.
In support of these enhanced engagement processes, 57,000 FET places will continue to be reserved for the long-term unemployed in 2015. A minimum of 16,000 places for the long-term unemployed will also be provided through key public employment programmes. This includes an expansion of the JobsPlus initiative, an employment subsidy that incentivises employers to recruit the long-term unemployed.