Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (128)

Michael Ring

Question:

241 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the changes if any which have been made to the FÁS criteria for people over the age of 55 years. [1366/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

As part of the Government's decision in 1999 to restructure community employment, future participation in community employment by an individual was capped at three years, effective from April 2000. This change was introduced to discourage repeated participation in community employment and to encourage unemployed persons to avail of training and education options, where possible, which are shown to have more successful progression outcomes for individuals.

The three-year cap was amended in August 2001 to allow particularly disadvantaged persons to remain on the programme for a further period. In the case of people aged over 50 years, the three-year cap on participation has been removed where people in this age group, having spent three years on the programme, continue to experience difficulties in getting employment. Participants are considered for an extension if, on reaching the end of their normal entitlements on community employment, they are likely to experience difficulty in getting employment due to their age, literacy or numeracy problems or a lack of suitable jobs available locally. FÁS currently has discretion to offer up to 20% of the total number of community employment participants a further period on the programme on a case-by-case basis.

The community employment programme is currently under review. A decision on the future eligibility criteria for participants on community employment will be taken when the current review process has been brought to a conclusion.

Question No. 242 answered with QuestionNo. 233.