The Government has rejected Sinn Féin calls for an immediate end to referrals of jobseekers to the JobPath scheme.
Wicklow TD John Brady criticised the low rates of take-up on the scheme.
Fewer than one in five enrolled in the back-to-work scheme secured full-time employment.
Introduced in 2015, its aims were to assist the long-term unemployed in securing full-time employment but opposition parties have claimed it totally failed.
Mr Brady, Sinn Féin’s social protection spokesman, said: “Since 2015, over 151,000 citizens have been mandatorily sent over to the JobPath scheme at the cost of over €71.2m.”
Mr Brady said less than 18% of the 39,603 people selected between July 2015 and June 2016 secured full-time employment. The cost of the scheme per successful applicant was €13,772.
Mr Brady also claimed that, as well as being largely unsuccessful, JobPath harms other labour activation schemes such as the Community Employment programme or the Tús programme.
“When JobPath was initiated, there was no consultation with the LES [Local Employment Service] or other job activation schemes to see as to whether they could upskill to meet the demands of the increase in unemployment figures.”
In response, the department said it does not accept the contention that the JobPath service has had an adverse impact on Community Employment or other supported employment schemes and no evidence has been presented to support this contention.
The department will continue to direct all of its existing resources, including JobPath, to meet the demands of those seeking to re-enter the workforce.
These schemes are designed to break the cycle of unemployment and maintain work readiness, thereby improving a person’s opportunities of returning to the labour market or getting a job for the first time, it said.
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