By Gerard Walker, Future Jobs Skills-Work-Insights
This new Government Pathways to Work Strategy is designed to drive employment recovery in Ireland. It comprises a key element of the Governments Recovery Plan, which aims to exceed pre-crisis employment levels by 2024. The Strategy is framed against the background of the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic, Brexit, and ongoing changes in the nature of work.
Key commitments of the Strategy include:
• Reducing youth employment from 44% to 12.5%. As part of a reinforced Youth Guarantee, a special package of supports will be provided for young people. This will comprise 50,000 further and higher training places, delivering 10,000 apprenticeship registrations each year, and providing recruitment subsidies for employers who take young people off the Live Register.
• A new Work Placement Experience programme will be established with 10,000 paid quality work placements for people who have been unemployed for six months. Some 4,000 of the placements will be reserved for young people. Participants on the voluntary scheme will be paid €306 per week for 30 hours of work, with additional amounts payable in respect of dependent adults/children.
• Increasing funding for the JobPlus recruitment subsidy of between €7,500 and €10,000 for employers to take an additional 8,000 people off the Live Register.
• The capacity of Intreo Public Employment Service will be enhanced through the assignment of an additional 150 case officers dedicated to helping unemployed persons back to work. This will double the case load capacity from 100,000 to 200,000 job seekers per annum.
• Increasing the employment rates of lone parents from 63% to 74% and for people with disabilities from 22% to 33%. Targeted employment supports will be extended to groups facing challenges entering the workforce, including people with disabilities, lone parents, and minority groups.
• Reducing long-term unemployment by getting 75,000 long-term unemployed people into employment.
• A €1,000 Training Support Grant will be provided via Intreo to jobseekers to avail of short term, accredited training programmes. This will enable 12,500 job seekers access relevant and accredited training programmes outside State provided further and higher education.
• Remote working and e-learning opportunities will be provided to participants of work placement, education, and training schemes.
• Developing and operating ‘returner’ programmes to encourage and support people who left the workforce and have been outside of the workforce for some time to take up employment. This will be developed by the Departments of Social Protection and Enterprise, Trade and Employment early 2023.
Performance and published data will be published on a quarterly and annual basis to track progress. The labour Market Advisory Council will undertake a mid-term review of the Strategy in 2023. The Pathways to Work strategy can be read here.
The recent OECD Skills Outlook Report 2021 highlighted that a main effect of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a drop in employment and training opportunities for disadvantaged persons, lower skilled workers and vulnerable groups. The new Pathways to Work Strategy will give a welcome boost to training and employment measures for persons whose employment has been impacted by the pandemic particularly, young persons, lower skilled, persons with disabilities and those at risk of long-term unemployment.