In response to the rising numbers of unemployed including graduates, the Government has formulated and implemented a realistic and practical strategy to prioritise the activation and training of such individuals. My Department, along with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Department of Education and Science, have been working closely together to ensure we respond to this unemployment challenge in a significant manner. The Work Placement Programme, which was announced in the Supplementary Budget, is an initiative that has been created to provide valuable professional work experience for unemployed individuals, including graduates.
The Work Placement Programme has being created to provide 2,000 six-month work experience places for graduates and other individuals. The aim of this scheme is to provide invaluable work experience to individuals who are unemployed, who have recently graduated from college or have very limited experience of the workplace.
To date the number of individuals who have expressed an interest with FÁS in the Programme and who meet the eligible criteria stands at 192. In terms of places, FÁS has received 180 inquiries to date from potential providers, which has resulted in 155 actual places being offered by providers. Considering that FÁS is in the process of finalising its targeted publicity campaign of the Programme, it is encouraging that it is experiencing a considerable level of interest from individuals and providers in the Programme.
Finally, it is my intention to review the effectiveness and impact of the Programmes upon the satisfactory completion of their roll-out. It will be in this context that any potential changes, such as changes to the duration of the Programme, an increase in the number of places and the eligibility criteria of this Programme will be considered.