Coalition: Unemployment to vanish by 2020

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks to the media at the Digital Hub in Dublin as he launched the Pathways to work scheme. Picture: PA

The Government has pledged to eliminate unemployment in Ireland by 2020.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he wanted to get people “off couches” and into work as he announced job creation would be the Coalition’s priority for the rest of its life.

A special Cabinet meeting yesterday focused on boosting jobs in the construction sector, obstacles faced by the retail industry, and how foreign employers could be facilitated in creating employment.

Government launched its new Pathways to Work Report and pledged to move 75,000 long-term unemployed into jobs by 2015. However, the move was deemed “spin” by the opposition with other TDs arguing the Coalition was prioritising “presentation over delivery”.

Speaking in the Digital Hub in Dublin, Mr Kenny admitted that far too few jobs were being filled from the Live Register.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the ambition was to reduce unemployment to 5% by 2020, which was essentially eliminating it. Figures show of the 300,000 permanently out of work, half of them have been unemployed for more than six months.

Mr Kenny highlighted the cycle of “hopelessness, disillusionment and poverty” that the long-term unemployed faced. The Government wanted to change this so those people were no longer viewed as a “discarded list of people” who “got free money”.

Reforms in assistance payments for the unemployed moving into work will also help the jobless make transitions, it was announced. Social Protection Minister Joan Burton announced rent supplement payments would no longer be automatically removed if people found work and payments would instead be based upon means tests.

Profiling of the unemployed would increase and attempts would be made now to get rid of the view “work does not pay”.

Since Apr 2011 a total of 3,249 people in receipt of welfare payments have also had amounts reduced after failing to engage with education and job offers through services, Ms Burton’s department revealed.

Mr Kenny said the Cabinet meeting yesterday had heard of challenges faced by the retail sector from customers turning to online purchasing. A voluntary register of building contracts was discussed as well as difficulties companies setting up in offices here, he added.

Fianna Fáil said the modest growth in jobs in recent months was “limited to part-time jobs and self-employment”.

Getting back to work

- The Government has pledged to move 75,000 long-term unemployed people into jobs by 2015. Ministers say they will also increase by 50% the exit rate of people on the live register for two years or more.

- Personal profiles of 422,900 people on the live register this year will also be completed to help tailor jobs to suit them.

- Promises to stem the drift of unemployment, with pledges that the average time on the live register will be reduced from 21 months to 12 months by 2015.

- Roll out 33 new ‘one stop’ offices around the country where those out of work can get information about education and jobs

- Tweaking housing assistance payments so people who return to the workplace do not automatically lose entitlements to supplements. Payments will be based on a person’s means rather than household status.

- New education and training boards under the Department of Education will create courses for people which companies want under Solas, which is replacing Fás.


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