A comparatively small number of people participate in the JobBridge training programme that Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar plans to replace after the summer, official figures published yesterday show.
The CSO figures from its Live Register publication show that JobBridge accounted for only 4,015, or 5%, of all the 77,885 people participating in all State-funded training programmes in April.
The so-called activation programmes are designed to help people from slipping into long-term unemployment and tackle the huge level of long-term unemployment that still scars the country following the construction and economic collapse eight years ago.
The 77,885 people on the activation programmes are not counted as unemployed and therefore do not show up in the country’s official 7.8% rate of unemployment.
Amid high economic growth, the Irish unemployment rate has fallen, but still remains at an elevated level compared with many eurozone countries.
The official unemployment rate would be higher if the large numbers on activation programmes were counted as people seeking work.
Mr Varadkar has said that the JobBridge scheme, which was designed to help people get experience during the worst of the economic slump, will be replaced in September.
Under the terms of the JobBridge scheme, participants retain social welfare payments and receive an additional weekly payment of €52.
However, the latest CSO Live Register figures show the 4,015 participants on JobBridge is dwarfed by most other activation programmes.
In April, there were 21,641 people on Back to Education courses; 22,938 people on Community Employment Schemes; 11,996 people on Back to Work payments; and 6,802 people on Fás and Solas full-time training schemes.
The total number participating in all the activation programmes had fallen to 77,885 in April from 79,906 participants in March, and was also down from the 88,398 people on the programmes in April 2015.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development said earlier this week that the Government should “prioritise” reducing unemployment through activation programmes as a way of spreading “the benefits of increased prosperity across society”.
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