Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Questions (548)

Willie O'Dea


548. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will report on the issue of underemployment here; if she will provide the available data relating to same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52023/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Government’s primary strategy to tackle unemployment is to create the environment for a strong economic recovery by promoting competitiveness and productivity. The economy is recovering strongly and will underpin employment growth and the availability of productive work for those on the Live Register. The Action Plan for Jobs sets out Ireland’s policies in support of enterprise and employment growth. The most recent Pathways to Work strategy, for the period 2016-2020, continues to focus on addressing long-term and youth unemployment by introducing new measures to ensure that the long-term and young unemployed take up a substantial share of the jobs being created by economic recovery. The strategy includes some additional actions, which are ongoing or have been completed, in relation to addressing long-term and youth unemployment:

- the roll out of JobPath to engage more systematically with this group; the JobPath service has provided activation support to over 180,000 long term jobseekers since its inception in 2015. Jobseekers have benefitted from intensive engagement with a personal advisor to assist their return to employment.

- targeted wage subsidies under JobsPlus, including JobsPlus Youth;

- reserved places for the long term unemployed on employment and training programmes. (Latest available data indicates that approximately 55,000 people are availing of a range of activation programmes targeted primarily at the long term unemployed);

- the continued provision of activation services to the long term unemployed by Local Employment Services and Jobclubs. In 2018, 26,000 customers have engaged with these services; and

- the launch of the Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) targeted specifically at young jobseekers who are long-term unemployed or who face significant barriers to gaining employment. YESS provides young jobseekers with the opportunity to learn basic work and social skills in a supportive environment while on a work placement, helping them to increase their employment prospects.

Latest available data from the CSO Labour Force Survey shows that the number of persons recorded as working part-time, but underemployed, was 115,800 in the third quarter of 2018, representing a decrease of 4.5% in year on year terms from the third quarter of 2017. This cohort currently represent approximately 4.8% of the total labour force (2.417m).

Ireland’s Public Employment Service (PES) is managed by my Department and delivered directly by the Intreo service to provide a range of activation and employment support services to those who wish to avail of its services, on a walk-in basis. It is a priority of my Department to deliver the necessary supports and innovations to facilitate a fair chance to gain work, particularly full-time work, as more and more jobs become available.

November 2018 saw a continued trend downwards in the number of people on the Live Register to 196,261 – representing a year on year decrease of 15.8% since November 2017, and a decrease of almost 30% over a two year period.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Live Register total recorded a monthly decrease of 3,100 people (-1.5%) in November 2018, bringing the seasonally adjusted total to 207,200. The number on the seasonally adjusted Live Register in November 2018 is also the lowest number recorded since May 2008 (when it was 201,756).

The Live Register trend for young people is similar, with the number of claimants aged 18-24 declining from 80,000 in 2011 to approximately 20,000 in November 2018. Since 2011, the month-on-month decline in Live Register numbers has been more rapid for the under 25 year cohort than for those over 25.

Three out of five people on the Live Register are now classified as short term claimants. The number of long term claimants has decreased by almost 34% - to 80,557 – over a two year period.

Many of those who have left the Live Register and returned to work will have been helped to do so by supports from my Department and the buoyant recovery created by government policy to reduce unemployment.

This policy approach, and continuing economic recovery, will build on substantial improvements in the labour market that have been seen over the last few years.