Letter to the Editor: Jobless schemes not fit for purpose

Letter to the Editor: Jobless schemes not fit for purpose

File picture: Denis Minihane.

Various media sources are suggesting that the Government will vastly increase the number of places on activation schemes, in the forthcoming budget (e.g. Community Employment). This is proposed, as a response to the high level of unemployment caused by Covid-19. Several politicians and business figures have been calling for such a measure.

All of these people need to think again because activation schemes, as they are currently operated, are not fit for purpose. The stated purpose of activation schemes is to help the long-term unemployed get training and work experience that would help them find a decent paying job and ideally, a job or career for the long-term. 

But for a long number of years now, activation schemes have been used as a cynical tool by successive governments to ‘massage’ the unemployment figures and make unemployment appear to be much lower than it actually is, both in the eyes of the public and the media.

I’ve participated in several of these schemes, over the years and I would consider only one of them to have been worthwhile. 

That was over 10 years ago. The cynical policies of successive governments since that time have resulted in activation schemes deliberately being operated in a way that is grossly disrespectful and insulting towards unemployed people. 

These cynical and unfocused policies have also resulted in the waste of hundreds of millions of euro in tax-payers money, which is an absolute disgrace in itself.

No attempt whatsoever is made to ‘match’ unemployed people with training and work experience appropriate to their needs or to develop their current skills; unemployed people are forced to take whatever they are offered and this is accompanied by various threats from the Department of Social Protection. 

What could have been a great opportunity to increase the pool of skilled people in this country, has been totally wasted. These are just some aspects of Government policy on activation schemes that result in gross disrespect being shown towards the long-term unemployed and the appalling waste of tax-payers money.

Employers don’t take these schemes seriously either; I know that from attending job interviews.

This is a scandal that is happening now and has been happening for many years in the plain sight of all of us, the media included. All of those in business and politics, who are clamouring for more job activation schemes, need to think again.

Tim Buckley 

Cork City

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