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 Header Item Jobs Initiative Inquiry (Continued)
 Header Item Employment Support Services
 Header Item Topical Issue Debate
 Header Item Crèche Inspections

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 805 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton] While I do not have a direct answer to the Deputy's question, I will request that information of the departmental officials.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh I welcome that and ask that the case in general be considered, given it is a complicated case because it involves the partnership collapse and everything around that. However, commitments were given to all workers who were transferred from the partnership to the Dublin 12 Congress Centre that their conditions of employment and the source of their funding would be protected and that this would be re-examined.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I certainly will look further into the matter to ascertain whether there is any further information that may be of assistance to the Deputy and will raise it with the officials.

Employment Support Services

 9. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the progress that has been made in the implementation of the Pathways to Work strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25819/13]

 14. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of staff within her Department committed to employer engagement as part of the Pathways to Work strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25831/13]

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 9 and 14 together.

The Pathways to Work strategy represents the single biggest ever change to how the State engages with and provides services to people who are unemployed. It is delivering on the programme for Government commitment to set up a co-ordinated employment and entitlements service and involves a multi-annual programme of complex legislative, organisation, process, people and work changes running to the end of 2014. There are five strands to the pathways approach, namely, engagement with people who are unemployed, the provision of activation places and opportunities, incentivising the take-up of opportunities, working with employers and reforming institutions. A key component of the strategy is to increase engagement with employers and to incentivise them to provide more jobs for people who are unemployed and are on the live register. A dedicated employer engagement unit was established in 2012 to co-ordinate the Department’s engagement with employers.

Experience shows employers are often reluctant to take on people who have a gap on their curricula vitae and this reluctance must be overcome if a pathway back to employment for unemployed people is to be offered. It is for this reason that I am particularly concerned to involve employers and to get their input into the pathways programme. I personally have hosted nine employer roadshow events at locations all over the country, which were attended by more than 2,000 people. In addition, the Department has hosted three job fairs and five breakfast briefings, as well as numerous briefings to industry representative groups and a significant number of meetings with individual employers. Moreover, this engagement is paying dividends, both in respect of the success of the JobBridge scheme to which reference was made earlier and in the use of the Department’s services by many small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, and by large firms such as PayPal, Meteor and Eishtec, based in Waterford, as well as by public sector bodies such as the Passport Office to recruit people from the live register into direct employment. This is because as vacancies arise, it is absolutely critical that those who are on the live register must be put in a position in which they can go for such vacancies. If one considers those who are on the live register as having been parked to one side and if employers do not look on them as being a key resource of this country, which this country has trained and educated, one will not get people who currently are unemployed back to work.

Thus far, with the new system we had 68,600 people in group engagements last year, while more than 40,000 people have benefited from such engagements this year. The Department conducted 158,000 one-to-one guidance interviews with jobseekers last year. The target is to complete 185,000 initial interviews in 2013. Significantly, under the Intreo model being rolled out, the process of engagement starts immediately. This is because I want the motto to be that the first day one signs on to be a jobseeker also is the first day on which the Department helps the person who has become a jobseeker to get back into work.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I call Deputy O'Dea. We will have time for just one supplementary question.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea I thank the Minister for her invitation to the new Intreo offices. While I was hoping to pay my initial visit to the office in Limerick, I do not see any sign of that happening just yet.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Has the Deputy received his personal services card and photograph yet?

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea No. I have a few specific questions on this issue. Is the Minister still confident she will be able to roll out the scheme fully within two years of the initial announcement? Second, what percentage of people who present actually are profiled? Is it true, as I read recently in a newspaper report, that only a very small percentage of people who present have been profiled? Is it true that profiling is confined to new entrants? How much retraining and reskilling has taken place? Finally, both the Taoiseach and the Minister have stated the Government objective was that this scheme would take 75,000 people out of the ranks of the long-term unemployed by the end of next year. How realistic is that objective?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton As I stated, 12 Intreo offices are now completely live and at least another four are pretty much converted. I personally have visited most of them. Another 63 offices are to be rolled out by the end of 2014. I must confess to Deputy O'Dea that I must rely on the good offices of the Office of Public Works, because it is acting as the Department's agent in this conversion and at times, there are problems with IT lines, way-leaves and so on. Consequently, it is a highly exhaustive process.

In respect of the roll-out of the cards, I certainly invite the Deputy to get his personal services card and, yes, the Department started with new jobseekers because new people coming in have their photographs taken to a biometric standard. I understand the current figure has exceeded the 150,000 mark. Later this year, the Department hopes to bring the roll-out to, for instance, retired people and those in receipt of pensions. We intend to co-operate with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with regard to passports, although many pensioners seek to have fresh photographs used for their personal services cards. It also will contain data regarding free travel, as the personal services card is capable of holding a lot of data.

As for the targets in respect of activating people, I will provide the Deputy with a small example. The Passport Office was recruiting temporary employees some time ago and all 52 of the temporary vacancies were recruited from the live register. Eishtec in Waterford is expanding quite rapidly and our offices have been of enormous assistance to that firm in assisting people who have been unemployed in that region to apply for jobs. I am happy to note that quite a number of people have been successful. Similarly, companies such as PayPal have been involved. As the Deputy is aware, it is establishing more than 1,000 welcome jobs in Dundalk and again, the Department has been offering the company all its facilities and resources to assist in considering both the people coming out of college and those who already are working in the IT sector and the people on the live register who would make great employees. I hope this level of co-operation with companies will expand and develop, as it is the best way to get back to work as many people as possible who currently are unemployed.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Topical Issue Debate

Crèche Inspections

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt As 11 Members have raised this issue with the Ceann Comhairle, namely, Deputies Peter Mathews, Simon Harris, Derek Keating, Robert Troy, Mary Lou McDonald, Ciara Conway, Alan Farrell, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Róisín Shortall, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and John Lyons, there will be just one and a half minutes available for each Deputy. Consequently, I ask for their co-operation. The Minister will then have four minutes, after which there will be a further 30 seconds for a supplementary question. I call on Deputy Mathews.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews The fact that 11 Deputies have sought to highlight the alarm that has been raised nationwide on this issue speaks for itself. It is appalling that the most vulnerable citizens were subject to the type of treatment, neglect, bullying, harassment and downright punishment imposed that occurred in a couple of those crèches and which was shown on "Prime Time" last night.

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