The Local Employment Services are contracted by my Department on an annual basis to provide activation services to those on the Live Register, as well as “drop-ins” to these services. These contracts are reviewed annually 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 the LES and Job Clubs published in January, recommended the Department consider the introduction of multiannual 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.
In September, my Department published a Request for Tender for consultancy services, to provide advice and support regarding the future of the State’s public employment service and assist with the procurement of contracted public employment services in Ireland, covering the period 2021-2025. It is anticipated that the successful tenderer will provide the Department with a final report in the second quarter of 2020.
In the interim, no changes will be made to the contracting process for the Local Employment Services and bids to provide services for 2020 will be invited and considered in the usual manner.
I am on the record in recognising the valuable work performed by Local Employment Services. It is my view that, within the parameters of current procurement rules, any future procurement process give due recognition to the ability to deliver high quality, locally-based services. Indeed, it is in everyone's interests - jobseekers, service providers and the State - to ensure, insofar as it is possible, that experienced employment service providers with a strong community ethos continue to form a core part of our employment services infrastructure.