Since the lowest point of the jobs crisis, the unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of over 15% to 11.8% at present. The long-term unemployment rate has fallen from 9.5% to 7.3%. The number of long-term unemployed has fallen from 204,000 in early 2012 to 156,000 at present. In terms of the Live Register, a target was set that 75,000 of those who were long-term on the Register at the beginning of 2012 would move into employment by the end of 2015; the number who have already done so is now over 46,000 and we are well on track to beating our target –a target that was considered by many to be overly ambitious. The youth unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of 33% to 25% at present, and the number of unemployed young people has fallen from 64,000 early 2012 to 47,500 now.
The Department operates four main schemes whose purpose is to provide a pathway to employment.
JobsPlus is targeted specifically at encouraging employers to recruit people who are long-term unemployed. Over 2,300 long-term unemployed people have been placed in employment as a result of JobsPlus and over 60% of these have been unemployed for 2 years or more.
Community Employment and Tús provide work experience opportunities for long term unemployed jobseekers mainly within the community and voluntary sector. The numbers of participants on Community Employment and Tús as of April 2014 were 23,000 and 7,400 respectively up from 21,200 and 4,800 in April 2013.
The JobBridge scheme provides a stepping stone for unemployed people to employment in the wider economy. As of the end of April there were over 6,700 participants on the Scheme, up 12% from 6,000 in April 2013. To date nearly 30,000 people have participated in the scheme. Evaluation results indicate that 61% of leavers from JobBridge find employment within 5 months of leaving their internship.
With specific reference to youth unemployment, the main strategy of the Government to reduce youth unemployment is the Youth Guarantee. Approximately 5,000 places had been taken up on schemes covered by the Youth Guarantee in the first four months of this year.
The impact of the employment incentives outlined cannot be precisely separated from the impact of other factors affecting the decline in youth and long-term unemployment (such as the general improvement in the economy and the labour market resulting from the government’s overall economic and employment policies). However, I am satisfied that they have played an important part in recent progress in reducing unemployment levels.