The Government, as part of the Budget package for 2013 announced a number of initiatives focused on providing work opportunities for those currently unemployed. The key elements of this package are to add an additional 2,500 places to JobBridge; 2,000 places on community employment; 2,500 to Tús – the community work placement initiative - and the development of a new initiative with local authorities to provide 3,000 opportunities in 2013. This is in line with the commitments set out in the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work. I have recently made announcements in respect to the roll-out of new community employment and Tús placements. The additional 2,000 places allocated to the CE Programme are prioritised for schemes and organisations who are involved in the delivery of community childcare services, social and healthcare services for people with a disability. This is in order to support the provision of these services and offer training qualifications and work experience to CE participants. An allocation of 500 additional places will be reserved for childcare support and 500 places for social and health related services. The design of the local authority initiative and the nature of work to be undertaken will require consultation with a range of stakeholders, including those bodies responsible for the delivery of other schemes funded by the Department of Social Protection. Development work on this new initiative has commenced with the local authorities. A timetable for the roll-out of a number of pilot projects to inform the design of the scheme is currently being finalised.
The new initiative is likely to have some of the characteristics of community employment, as do all work placement programmes. However, the Deputy should note that community employment is designed with a work placement and training element to progress a person back to the open labour market or on to more advanced development opportunities. Work placements are primarily hosted by community, voluntary and not-for-profit sponsors to support service delivery. This new initiative is being developed solely with local authorities to provide work placement opportunities for those on the live register for prolonged periods. It will provide opportunities for maintaining the skills and work readiness. The training element will mainly relate to on-the-job skills. A timetable for the roll-out of a number of pilot projects to inform the design of the scheme is currently being finalised.