Written Answers. - Summer Jobs Scheme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

299 Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his plans to abolish the student summer jobs scheme as reported in the media; if so, the way in which he intends to replace it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2826/03]

The students' summer jobs scheme was first introduced in 1993 to provide income support for less well off students who were disqualified under social welfare legislation from receiving unemployment assistance during the summer months. The scheme allowed students to take up part-time work useful to their community and to receive payment for this work.

When the scheme was introduced unemployment levels in Ireland were among the highest in the EU and students found it difficult during the holiday period to obtain work. In the past five years, however, the take up has dropped signifi cantly, from 13,500 in 1998 to 4,600 in 2002. This decline reflects the greater and wider availability of alternative and well paid summer jobs in recent years. In view of this and in light of the financial pressures on my Department, it has been decided to discontinue the students' summer job scheme.
The Government also has decided to shift the focus of available resources towards educational initiatives targeted at disadvantaged students. However, I have requested the area based partnerships to consider alternative measures to assist students in disadvantaged areas in finding suitable summer employment.