Thursday, 6 October 2016

Questions (23)

Mick Barry

Question:

23. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on the work of an agency (details supplied) on behalf of his Department; if he has studied the equivalent role this agency plays in the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28789/16]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The company in question – Seetec Limited – has been contracted by my Department to provide an employment service to long-term unemployed jobseekers so as to assist them to secure and sustain full-time paid employment. The service is known as JobPath.

JobPath was designed having regard to international experience of contracted employment services. Participants spend 12 months on JobPath and receive intensive individual support to help them tackle barriers to employment and to assist them in finding jobs. Each person is assigned to a personal adviser who assesses a person’s skills, experience, challenges and work goals. The personal adviser works with the jobseeker to agree a personal progression plan that includes a schedule of activities, actions and job focused targets. Participants are provided with a range of training and development supports. If the jobseeker secures employment they will continue to receive support for at least three months and up to twelve months while in employment.

Seetec has 32 years’ experience in the UK of delivering employability, skills, training and rehabilitation programmes that are designed to support people into sustained employment, education and training or to support rehabilitation. It supports 100,000 clients per annum to address and overcome issues such as unemployment, skills shortages, health conditions, social exclusion and re-offending.

While Seetec provides a similar service for jobseekers in the UK it is important to point out that there are significant differences between the two services. Unlike the UK service, JobPath contracts stipulate a significant number of requirements, including an in-built “Service Guarantee” which means that each jobseeker will be guaranteed a baseline level of service including frequency on meetings with case officers, treatment with courtesy and respect and a transparent complaints process. As part of the contract terms Seetec is subject to penalty payments if it fails to achieve satisfactory scores in independent research on customer satisfaction with its services. Payments are also contingent on Seetec satisfying Department inspectors that it is complying with the terms of its contract and most significantly payments are based in the first instance on Seetec securing sustained employment for its clients with these payments being phased over a 12 month period of employment. Seetec is strongly incentivised therefore to offer a high level of service to its clients.

While the contract is in its early stages of implementation feedback to date is very positive and initial indications, in terms of employment outcomes, are also very encouraging. I am therefore satisfied, at this point in time, that the JobPath service is being delivered in a manner that meets the needs of jobseekers.