€1.6bn to fund jobs programme

The Government is to spend €1.6bn next year to provide 300,000 additional work and training places under its Pathways to Work strategy.

Pathways to Work was first introduced in 2012 with the aim of ensuring as many newly created jobs as possible go to people on the Live Register.

Brendan Howlin, the public expenditure minister, said unemployment was falling faster than almost anywhere else in the EU. It stands at just over 11% — down from 15.1% in early 2012. “We expect it to fall to 10.2% in 2015,” said Mr Howlin. “This is still too high but the employment support measures we have introduced are paying dividends.”

He said the Government was doubling the number of positions to 6,000 for the long-term unemployed on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, JobsPlus.

Some €12m has been allocated to the JobsPath scheme next year

Kevin Humphreys, the minister of state for activation at the Department of Social Protection, said his priority was to help people get back to work.

“A doubling of the number of places on the JobsPlus scheme will encourage employers to hire those who have been out of work for one year or more. Sixty percent of those hired under JobsPlus to date have been out of work for over two years. This shows how immensely invaluable JobsPlus is to people who are experiencing long-term unemployment.”

Meanwhile, Alan Kelly, the local government minister, said 10,000 people who were “distanced” from the labour market would get direct one-to-one labour market training and supports through the Local and Community Development Programme which, he said, will draw to a close in the first quarter of 2015. He said its successor, the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme which “will take account of the new aligned local authority/local development structures”, will support a further 30,000 people in 2015.

“€46m will be invested in 2015 to increase access to formal and informal educational activities and resources, and to increase people’s work readiness and employment prospects.”

Mr Howlin confirmed a Low Pay Commission will be established in 2015.


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