——Deputy Naughten is good at writing to me about them too — finding themselves without work or with reduced working weeks. Our approach to tackling the issue is multi-layered and centres on restoring our public finances, protecting employment across the economy, retraining those without work, and attracting new investment and jobs to our shores.
As regards strengthening our jobsearch supports, at my request, FÁS's employment services together with local employment services is putting in place measures designed to provide increased capacity in jobsearch supports for the increased number of unemployed. The implementation of these measures will increase capacity from 6,500 per month to at least 12,250 per month.
The Government is also working to significantly improve access for unemployed persons to maximise opportunities for upskilling and reskilling so that people will be better placed to avail of new job opportunities when they become available. A number of programmes are already in place and it is intended to expand greatly the frequency and range of these programmes over the coming months.
I recently announced the availability of 51,000 new training places under the FÁS training initiatives strategy, which brings to 78,000 the total short training course places under the bridging foundation training, specific skills training and traineeships programmes.
The training initiative strategy enhances the traditional mix of course offerings and will be delivered through three core training initiatives, short courses, night courses and on-line courses. The courses are for highly employable persons who wish to add to their existing skills level and improve their prospects of re-entering the labour market.
In addition, FÁS is responding to the major increase in the numbers of people within the construction sector who have found themselves out of work and the increase in the number of apprentices being made redundant.
We have established a training fund to provide a timely response to identified training and re-training needs for low-skilled and redundant craft workers from the construction sector. FÁS is also focusing on providing retraining opportunities for redundant construction workers in emerging areas such as the installation of energy efficient and renewable technologies, environmental activity, and compliance and regulatory work.
On redundant apprentices, my Department and FÁS have put in place a series of actions to facilitate more than 2,200 apprentices to complete their studies. These include apprentices being allowed to progress to their next off-the-job phase of training without having to do the next on-the-job phase. A register of redundant apprentices has been established by FÁS and the institutes of technology in order to identify these people at the earliest possible point and we have prioritised the need to locate an employer to sponsor the completion of the apprentices' off-the-job training.
Last year I announced the launch of FÁS employer-based redundant apprentice rotation scheme, which operates this year and aims to provide up to 500 redundant apprentices with on-the-job training with certain approved employers on a rotation basis.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Further help for those who have become distanced from the labour market for some time and who are seeking to re-enter is provided by the community employment, CE, scheme. CE is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a fixed-term basis.
While a significant amount of work has been done in a short space of time, the Government is intent on achieving greater capacity within existing resources. In this context we will bring forward further measures to make training and education services available to a greater number of unemployed persons over the coming weeks and months.
In addition to the activation measures that I have set out today, this Government's focus will also be very much on supporting the growth of Irish companies with the ambition, leadership and innovation to succeed in creating and sustaining employment.