JobPath is a new programme of employment activation aimed specifically at the long-term unemployed and those most distant from the labour market with the primary objective of assisting such persons to gain sustainable employment. The Department is currently in the process of evaluating tenders for the provision of the service.The allocation of additional resources to the activation of long term unemployed people was the focus of an updated “Pathways to Work” policy statement published in July 2013 (PTW 2013). Having examined various resourcing and contracting options, and taking note of recommendations by the OECD among others, it was decided to procure additional capacity from providers with expertise and experience in the provision of employment supports or related services. This additional capacity will augment the Department’s own activation capacity as well as that already delivered under contract. Currently the Department has some 50 contracts in place for the provision of Local Employment Services and Job Clubs in 75 locations around the country. It is important to note that JobPath is not intended to be a substitute or replacement for any of the services currently offered by the Department either directly or via LES and JobsClubs; rather it will provide an additional element of support to enable people who are long-term unemployed and those most distant from the labour market to enter/re-enter employment or progress towards employment.
In designing JobPath the Department has taken on board experiences in various jurisdictions with regard to such contracting, as well as its own experience from its current contracted provision. In order to mitigate the potential for “creaming and parking” JobPath has been designed so that the Department controls the referral process, higher payments are made for those who are more difficult to place into sustainable employment and poor performance by contractors can result in financial penalties. In addition, unlike the position in UK, contractors must, subject to financial penalty, guarantee every JobPath participant a baseline level of service irrespective of the degree of difficulty in placing them into sustainable employment. JobPath has therefore been designed with a focus on regular and on-going engagement with individual Jobseekers to ensure all clients while on JobPath receive an appropriate service.