I thank Deputy Nolan for raising this issue.
JobPath provides employment assistance and advice to the long-term unemployed on behalf of my Department. The current JobPath contracts were due to expire at the end of last year. Last October, however, in addition to contract renewals to the local employment services, job clubs and EmployAbility, I announced an extension of referrals to the JobPath service for a further 12 months until the end of 2021. While new referrals will cease at the end of December, there will be a run-off period to enable existing clients to complete their engagement with the service. These measures were taken in order to ensure that the public employment service had sufficient capacity to support those impacted by the pandemic with access to employment services throughout 2021.
In light of these circumstances, I deemed it prudent not only to retain but to expand the existing capacity of our public employment services. We will expand the footprint of local employment-type services into several new geographical areas where a local employment service does not currently exist. 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. As the current contracts for all contracted employment services, including JobPath, expire at the end of 2021, my Department is currently developing requests for tender to ensure that high-quality employment services, with sufficient capacity to support all those who need our assistance in securing employment, are openly procured in a manner that is compatible with EU and national procurement rules.