Dáil Éireann - Volume 345 - 02 November, 1983

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Youth Employment Agency.

3. Mr. V. Brady asked the Minister for Labour if he is satisfied with the performance of the Youth Employment Agency since its inauguration; and if he will state (1) the total number of personnel employed by the agency and in which capacities; (2) the total number of key personnel recruited to the agency from outside the civil service; and (3) the total cost of the agency to the Exchequer to date and over a twelve month period.

4. Mr. Gene Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Labour the number of staff employed by the Youth Employment Agency; and the method of recruitment of the staff.

Minister for Labour (Mr. Kavanagh): I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 and 4 together.

The progress made since the establishment of the Youth Employment Agency can be seen from the significant increase which has taken place in the number of places available to young unemployed people on youth employment and training schemes. In 1981 some 22,500 young people participated in the youth employment [1125] and training schemes then in operation against 32,500 in 1982 and an estimated 45,000 in 1983, which is double the number participating in 1981. The scale of the expansion is such that the number of places available on programme is of the same order as the number leaving school in any one year.

In addition to expanding existing programmes, the agency have developed a number of new schemes in the employment field aimed at the development of enterprise and a commitment to self-help among young people and community groups. These schemes are the community and youth enterprise programme and the youth self-employment programme. Major programmes in which the agency is involved include the ACOT certificate in farming programme and the placement of specialist personnel under the NBST “Young Scientists and Technologists Scheme” and the Irish Goods Council “Marketplace Programme”. The agency are continuing to examine job creation proposals from individuals and groups on a case basis and grant assistance has been provided in a number of cases.

I have no doubt but that the input of the agency, as the body with overall national responsibility for furthering the employment, work experience and training of young persons, will be a key factor in tackling the problem of youth unemployment.

As regards the staffing of the agency the following is the information sought: (i) Twenty-eight persons are currently employed by the agency in the following categories: (a) Chief Executive, 1; (b) Secretary, 1; (c) Directors looking after projects, finance, research and planning, 3; (d) Programme Managers, 3; (e) Project Officers, 6; (f) Research Assistants, 3; (g) Consultants, 2; (h) Administrative/Clerical and Support Persons, 9. Of the 28 employees, 13 are permanent, 3 are on short-term contracts and 12 are on secondment from other organisations.

(ii) Twelve of the 13 permanent employees of the agency were recruited from outside the Civil Service.

With regard to the method of recruitment of the agency staff, the chief executive was appointed by me in my capacity [1126] as Minister for Labour. Of the remaining 27 persons, 6 were recruited following the advertising of posts in the national Press; 11 were recruited through the National Manpower Service, and 10 are on secondment to the Youth Employment Agency from a number of different organisations including State and semi-State organisations. Two of the six who were recruited following the advertising of posts in the national Press, are also on secondment.

The total cost of the agency to the Exchequer to date is £646,301. The cost over a twelve month period (September, 1982 to August, 1983) was £480,700.

Mr. V. Brady: How many personnel originally recruited are at present serving in the Minister's office or in the office of the Minister of State?

Mr. Kavanagh: One.

Mr. V. Brady: Could the Minister give details why that person is in the Minister's office?

Mr. Kavanagh: I have not got that information. I am sure the Minister of State could furnish it to the Deputy.

Mr. V. Brady: Are the costs of this employee being charged to the Youth Employment Agency or to the Minister's office?

Mr. Kavanagh: They are still being charged to the Department.

Mr. V. Brady: Will the Minister tell the House if the Youth Employment Agency have been successfully creating jobs?

Mr. Kavanagh: The Youth Employment Agency were established in March 1982 under the Youth Employment Agency Act, 1981. The principle objectives are laid down in section 4 of that Act. They are mainly to encourage employment schemes for people over the age of 15 years and under the age of 25 years. The Youth Employment Agency created 500 jobs. The other agencies have [1127] been expanded to create employment and work experience to the extent that 45,000 people are receiving training.

Mr. V. Brady: If 500 jobs have been created can the Minister say why placement officers in the Manpower service have been instructed not to leave their offices in search of employment for young people?

Mr. Kavanagh: I am not aware of that instruction.

Mr. V. Brady: That has happened.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: Can the Minister explain the difference between the Community and Youth Enterprise Programme and the programme as operated by AnCO and why both organisations are needed? With regard to the ten people who are on secondment to the Youth Employment Agency from a number of different organisations, can the Minister say why they are seconded in a time of high unemployment? Is he satisfied with the progress of the agency and the increase in training places?

An Ceann Comhairle: It is not desirable to ask a number of questions.

Mr. Kavanagh: The Community Youth Enterprise Programme and the link programmes have a similarity and it is the job of the Youth Employment Agency to see that there is co-operation to ensure that their projects do not overlap or conflict with one another. The Deputy mentioned that the Youth Employment Agency had created 500 jobs. I am sure the Deputy is aware that when the Youth Employment Agency were created there was a staff of six. When I came back into office the same six people were still working in the agency and no effort had been made to give them the numbers of people necessary to run it properly. There is now a larger number of people employed, in the region of 28, and the agency are able to work much more speedily. The Deputy must be aware that the progress of the [1128] agency had been hampered by the lack of staff and the work which they were given to do could have been accelerated if they had had the proper staff when it was set up.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: Why was there need for secondment?

Mr. Kavanagh: This is to ensure that people with knowledge and experience of the type of work being done by the agency were supplied to them. As soon as it can be established that there are people from other sources who are able to do this work efficiently, we will recruit them. We could not take away from the agency that flexibility which they need for the type of work they are doing.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: Would the Minister agree in the interests of accuracy that, in fact——

An Ceann Comhairle: That is not a question.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: ——nobody had taken up employment with the Youth Employment Agency — nobody? One had been appointed the previous day but took up duty some months later. Nobody had taken up duty. Could I ask him of the original six seconded from the Department of Labour how many are still working with the agency? A final question: if, as he says, the agency have a co-ordinating role in order to avoid overlapping of functions, what was the need for such a role and, if the agency has this role, why did the Government recently see fit to appoint outside consultants to examine the whole area of co-operation between the various agencies? Surely that is a Government overlapping of function?

Mr. Kavanagh: Of the 12 employees of the agency two are on secondment from the Department of Labour.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: Are they two of the original six?

Mr. Kavanagh: Two from the Department. [1129] From my knowledge of the people I would say yes.

Mr. J. Fahey: Could the Minister tell the House that the agency has his confidence as Minister in view of the fact that, as Deputy Fitzgerald says, he found it necessary to appoint a firm of consultants?

An Ceann Comhairle: That is argument.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: It is a question.

An Ceann Comhairle: It would be far more appropriate in a debate on the Estimate rather than at Question Time.

Mr. J. Fahey: Could the Minister say why he found it necessary to appoint a firm of consultants and why he found it necessary to give the agency the staff they require? Could he comment on the assumption that the whole area of youth employment is now generally in a mess because of the fact that the Government have no policy in relation to this crucial issue and we have various people such as AnCO, the Youth Employment Agency and the Minister for Education trying to spend the money that is there?

Mr. Kavanagh: I could ask the Deputy what firm of consultants he is talking about.

An Ceann Comhairle: That would not be in order either.

Mr. Kavanagh: I do not know.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: Nor do we know about Government decisions.

Mr. Kavanagh: We have no consultants appointed to oversee the agency. I am quite satisfied with the progress that is taking place in the agency. As I described in the beginning, the figures bear out that the work the agency have been set up to do is being carried out as fast as possible. It is a little disappointing that the staff they needed were not given when they needed them.

[1130] Mr. V. Brady: Are they getting staff at the moment?

Mr. Kavanagh: They are, indeed.

Mr. V. Brady: Would the Minister assure the House that the important role of the National Manpower Service is not being phased out and second, will he investigate the allegation that placement officers are no longer allowed to leave their offices to seek employment for those registered?

Mr. Kavanagh: I can assure the Deputy that the Manpower Service is a most important and integral part of the Department of Labour and is certainly not being phased out. If the Deputy is aware of any instances where the Manpower Service is not being used for the purpose of placement I would certainly like to know it because that is the main function of the service.

5. Mr. Foley asked the Minister for Labour the bodies, organisations or firms in County Kerry that received funds from the Youth Employment Agency since its inception; and the amount received in each case.

Mr. Kavanagh: The information requested by the Deputy is not available as the proceeds of the youth employment levy have been allocated, with a few exceptions, on the basis of national programmes providing training, work experience and employment for young people.

Mr. Foley: Has the Minister the figure in respect of the courses conducted by the Tralee AnCO Training Centre?

Mr. Kavanagh: I have not got that information. I can get it for the Deputy.