On 22 October 2020, I announced my intention to renew or extend all contracted public employment services, including JobPath, in the context of addressing the labour market challenges of Covid-19. The current restrictions mean the demand for public employment services will grow, rather than shrink, in the short-to-medium term.
I should emphasise that JobPath is just one element of the Department's response to the labour market challenges we face. We are also expanding the capacity of other contracted employment services such as the Local Employment Services, Job Clubs and Employability, the contracts for whom have also been extended into this year.
We will be expanding the footprint of the community based contracted service into 4 new geographical areas where a Local Employment Service does not currently exist and we are also expanding the capacity of Intreo Centres to provide employment services and supports with the assignment of an additional 100 Job Coaches this year.
Significantly reducing the State's capacity to engage meaningfully with those seeking employment at this time is counter-intuitive and likely only to lead to greater long-term unemployment.
In April 2019, my Department published an econometric review of JobPath, which comprehensively demonstrated the effectiveness of the JobPath service in terms of its success in assisting people secure employment. Compared to other employment service supports, individuals who participated in JobPath were more likely to secure employment, to remain in employment for longer and to receive higher rates of earnings from employment compared to individuals who were not supported by the JobPath service.
My Department has ceased new referrals to all public employment services on each occasion when Covid-19 restrictions merited it. There are currently no new referrals being made. In addition, any reduced rates of payment for non-engagement with any public employment service provider have been suspended since March 2020.
Currently Pandemic Unemployment Payment recipients are not required to engage with public employment services. For jobseekers who do engage with such services, my Department does not tolerate, nor will it tolerate its contractors threatening jobseekers. I invite the Deputy to contact my office with any allegations of threats or inappropriate pressure.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.