Written Answers. - Summer Jobs Scheme.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

144 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the reasons he scrapped the students summer jobs scheme; if he intends to review his decision in view of the widespread disquiet among many communities who depended on this scheme for survival; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3521/03]

The student 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 to obtain work during the holiday period. In the past five years, however, the take-up has been dropping significantly, 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 that and in light of the financial pressures on my Department, it has been decided to discontinue the scheme. I have, however, requested the area based partnerships to consider alternative measures to assist students from disadvantaged areas in finding suitable summer employment.

Questions Nos. 145 and 146 answered with Question No. 143.