Dáil Éireann - Volume 521 - 13 June, 2000

Written Answers. - Job Initiative.

39. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the plans, if any, to ensure that persons who transfer to FÁS training opportunities at the end of June 2000 do not suffer a reduction in income in view of the new guidelines announced on 25 May 2000 concerning the future operation of the job initiative programme; the training opportunities that will be available for those who finish at the end of June 2000; the plans, if any, for a direct funding line for these services having regard to the many important community services being provided; [149] and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16519/00]

55. Mrs. Barnes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has received the study on the job initiative programme; if she will extend the life of this scheme for some participants beyond three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16530/00]

88. Mrs. Owen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has received the study on the job initiative programme; if she will extend the life of this scheme for some participants beyond three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16556/00]

100. Mr. Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the aims and objectives of jobs initiative; the position now in relation to the workers employed on those projects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16701/00]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 39, 55, 88 and 100 together.

The job initiative programme is a three year work experience programme for persons who have been unemployed for five years or longer. The fundamental objective of JI is to progress participants into mainstream employment.

The new guidelines on the future operation of the programme allow workers currently filling phase 1 places on JI, many of whom have availed of the six months extension to the end of June 2000, to remain on the programme for a further limited period to be determined locally between FÁS and their sponsors. These workers will receive personal guidance from a specific employment service case officer who will have the task of exploring the range of options available to the individual based on their ability to progress to the open labour market.

As identified in the PPF, some people, including those currently on JI, may have difficulties in getting and keeping a job in the open labour market and additional long-term supports will be needed. The issue of identifying and developing appropriate supports for such persons will be addressed by the PPF standing committee on the labour market

Some participants have additional training needs which can be accommodated while they remain on the programme and others may choose to opt for full time training. Bridging training programmes will also be provided by FÁS, in co-operation with the partnership companies which will be used to support the progression of JI workers. Persons engaged in full-time training will be paid the appropriate training allowance similar to other trainees and will be eligible for the £25 training bonus per week.

[150] Greater emphasis will be placed on the work experience element of the JI programme in future and through more active involvement of the local employment service, employers will be regularly appraised of the skills and competencies of JI participants. A period of placement with prospective employers may be the appropriate option for some workers and other persons currently job ready can avail of the services of FÁS jobs clubs, which are located around the country.

The mainstreaming of certain essential services currently being provided by community employment participants is being pursued by my Department at present. JI workers should be eligible to compete for these positions in the same way as other unemployed persons. The mainstreaming of such ‘essential services' as may be provided under JI is likely to have limited potential given the size of the programme .

The proposals to mainstream essential services under community employment will be discussed with the standing committee on the labour market following which a report will be prepared for Government.