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Written Answers. - FÁS Training Programmes.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 166. Mr. Hogan Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan  asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney  the consequences, in detailed format, of the reduction in the financial allocation for 2003 in respect of FÁS training and integration supports and the FÁS employment programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23386/02]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Fahey): Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey In deciding on the 2003 allocations for FÁS the Government was conscious of the need to maximise, within the current constraints on public expenditure, investment in measures that have a primary focus on employability. These include the provision of training and employment supports for the disabled and for those experiencing difficulty in entering the labour market.

FÁS training schemes are funded both by direct Exchequer funding and by contributions from the national training fund. The overall investment next year is being maintained close to 2002 levels. The 2003 Exchequer contribution of €73.518 million is complemented by a €222.055 million contribution from the national training fund, bringing the overall investment in FÁS training initiatives to €295.573 million. This compares to €301.018 million in 2002 and will mean some reduction in training places in 2003. FÁS will prioritise, in so far as possible, the training and employment supports for the disabled within their overall allocations.

The Government's commitment to the central role training plays in underpinning competitiveness is further demonstrated by the recently launched in-company training scheme which will provide €45 million between now and the end of 2006 for training and upskilling the labour force. This ESF funded initiative will be co-financed by the private sector.

The allocation for 2003 to FÁS employment programmes, which includes the community employment scheme, CE, is set at almost €365 million. This allocation will support an average CE participation level of around 22,000 throughout next year with a closing participation rate of about 20,000. This reduction of approximately 5,000 on the end 2002 participation level is in line with Government policy to reduce CE numbers in recognition of the significant reduction in the numbers of the long-term unemployed.

Over €30 million is being made available for the social economy programme, an increase from €20.55 million in 2002. This will be sufficient to fund commitments on the projects approved to date but will not allow for the approval of new projects in 2003. The job initiative programme will have an average participation level of around 2,500 throughout next year, with an end of year participation level of about 2,200. The end 2002 participation level is expected to be in the order of 2,800.

The board of FÁS, taking account of Government policy guidelines, will decide on the detailed [197] priorities and breakdown of funding between schemes and activities from within these overall allocations.

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