Tuigim go mbeidh an tAire Stáit, an Teachta Kyne, ag tógáil na ceiste seo. Tá áthas orm faoi sin mar tá mé cinnte go dtuigfidh sé bunús na ceiste.
I have no major argument with JobPath in its own right, many people who will never get commercial employment are being enrolled in it. The Minister of State knows the type of people I am talking about and their profiles. He will be familiar with them from his clinics and from meeting them in other places, as I am. In some cases, JobPath requires people to travel 100 km to Galway once a week to fill in CVs for jobs they will never get. This is not the main issue I am raising today.
Once a person enrols in JobPath, he or she is required to stay on the programme for one year. If JobPath was a voluntary scheme, it would be reasonable, however, it is as voluntary as the army volunteer who receives an order. Many of these people are coming to my constituency office and saying they have been offered a place in Tús but have been told they cannot leave JobPath before their year is finished in order to take the Tús place. As the Minister of State is aware, Tús places are highly prized. People want to take up Tús places given that they give them gainful occupation. We should fully recognise that people work on these schemes and that, at a premium of €20 per week, they are probably the cheapest employees in the country. Unfortunately, the Deputies here changed the means testing to make it even less attractive to enrol in these schemes.
I am asking that people would be allowed to transfer mid-stream from JobPath to Tús. By the time they have finished JobPath, the Tús place will have been given to somebody else, and they will spend another year without something gainful to do. When I initially established the Tús scheme, it was not my intention that it would last as a one-year scheme. We know many people will never get commercial jobs, although the system does not want to admit it. The system never covered the commercial market and employed people, as I did. This does not mean they will not do good work, particularly given the very small top-up we pay them. Many of the football pitches, green areas, halls and community centres would not be maintained, open and in good condition were it not for these schemes.
Where it is likely that a person will fail to get commercial employment through JobPath because the professional who is supervising him or her has figured out that his or her marketability on the open market is not great, he or she should be allowed to take places on the Tús scheme as they come up and should not be forced to pass them up and hope another opportunity will come up again once he or she completes the JobPath programme. The Minister of State knows many of the people to whom I refer because we share the same constituency and he knows that this dream of them all getting commercial employment is not based on the reality of the mixture of people in our constituency and in others.