Jobs for the unemployed and local workers should be ringfenced when big employers commit to large-scale employment in the country, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has suggested.
Large companies coming into areas affected by unemployment should be consulted by departments and the Government, and local people trained up to work for new positions, he said.
His comments came as he announced that the Government will launch an action plan for jobless families this year targeting generations of people out of work.
The Government has promised to reduce unemployment to below 6% during its lifetime. The current rate is 7.8%.
Mr Varadkar suggested that more co-operation and a specific framework are needed to support and get significant employers to take on the unemployed and local workers.
At a launch for the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, he said there is a job to be done by his department and others “in picking out big, new employers that are coming into an area, identifying them in advance, and making sure that they are aware that the Government does supply supports to employers”.
“Specifically to take people off the live register, specifically for the long-term unemployed, and also to work with employers, to identify people living in the locality well ahead of time, and to train them for those positions,” he said.
“It would be a big shame if a big employer came into an area and didn’t employ large numbers of people from the locality, for all sorts of reasons.”
Mr Varadkar referred to the recent announcement of 1,000 permanent jobs by Center Parcs for Longford.
He noted that the level of unemployment at 7.8% was still high. “On the one hand, you have employers who say they can’t find staff and then you have a live register with lots of potential staff on it,” he said.
“What we need to do, particularly where there is big investment in an area, is for the Government and the employer to work together, to ensure that jobs are given to local people and particularly people who have been unemployed for a period of time.”
The Department of Social Protection last night highlighted how Intreo offices assist employers to identify potential candidates for jobs.
The department said there are financial incentives to recruit the unemployed through JobsPlus. Through this, employers are given €10,000 per unemployed person recruited in monthly payments over two years.
Mr Varadkar, however, said this scheme is “undersubscribed” and “underutilised” by employers.
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