The LES and job clubs contracts are reviewed on an annual basis to ensure they are fit for purpose in the context of the Irish labour market, as well as providing value for money for taxpayers.
Indecon, in its reviews of LES and job clubs published in January recommended that the Department consider the introduction of multi-annual contracts and a competitive procurement process for future provision of these services. The Department has also received legal advice to the effect that renewing the LES and job clubs contracts annually without any movement towards competitive procurement is no longer sustainable.
Accordingly, a new process for procuring the public employment services currently provided by the LES and job clubs is in the early stages of development. My officials are working to design a procurement model that will balance the need for value for money for taxpayers with the importance of preserving high-quality employment advisory and counselling services. Officials will engage with and consult practitioners and stakeholders to gather their views on an appropriate tender design.
I am on the record in recognising the valuable work performed by the LES and job clubs and it is my view that the tender criteria should give due recognition to track records in delivering high-quality, locally-based services. That is really important.
It is in everyone's' interests, including jobseekers, service providers and the State, to ensure, insofar as is possible, that experienced employment service providers with a strong community ethos continue to form a core part of this and previous government's strategy for the delivery of employment assistance services.