Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (1266)

Mattie McGrath


1266. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will address concerns for the privacy of individual jobseekers that may arise when her Department organises events such as public jobs fairs, community employment, Tús information events or Turas Nua related events; her views on whether this method of engagement is totally unsatisfactory from a protection of privacy point of view; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13302/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The key objective of activation policy and labour market initiatives is to offer assistance to those most in need of support in securing work and achieving financial self-sufficiency. As a Public Employment Service, Intreo offers the full range of Intreo services to all citizens of working age including income supports and activation services.

Entitlement to a jobseeker’s payment is conditional on a jobseeker being available for and genuinely seeking work. Jobseekers are supported in their efforts to secure employment through the Department’s Intreo service and other supports. In turn, jobseekers commit to take reasonable steps to avail of opportunities to improve their prospects of employment.

The jobseekers activation process includes a range of approaches including referral to job vacancies, education and training supports and nomination to JobPath, Local Employment Services and direct employment schemes such as TUS and Community Employment.

Entitlement to jobseeker payments is dependent on participation in the activation process.

The majority of engagements with jobseekers take place on a one to one basis. However, it has also been found that active marketing and promotion of opportunities and communication of wider employment and training options can play a valuable role in supporting jobseekers. Intreo Job Week and aligned initiatives that are run throughout the year showcase these opportunities and provide the opportunity for large numbers of jobseekers and others to meet recruiting employers. At these events employers can meet, inform and interview potential applicants, while job seekers get the chance to ask questions, identify opportunities for upskilling and make important connections. Career fairs are excellent networking opportunities for people to meet those already working in their preferred industry and to identify options for education and training.

Invariably, these events are always well attended, reflecting the very high levels of interest in them. The feedback for attendees at these events has been very positive; for example, of the 450 who evaluated the recent event in Tipperary Town, 90% gave positive feedback and made particular mention of the level of information and support available to Jobseekers at the event.

Every effort is made by Departmental staff attending those events to provide for confidentiality and privacy of persons making enquiries. The nature of these events is such that personal and confidential issues are not discussed. Where an individual has an enquiry relating to their own particular circumstances, staff will always deal with these in a sensitive manner. Where the enquiry cannot be dealt with on the day or it would be inappropriate to do so, arrangements are made to contact the customer as soon as possible thereafter. Equally employers and other third party organisations attending at these events are expected to be professional and sensitive to ensure personal privacy is respected.

Invited jobseekers who are uncomfortable with attending these events for reasons of privacy can contact their case officer in advance to discuss if the need arises.

I trust that this clarifies matters for the Deputy.