Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis.
At the onset of the Covid-19 emergency last year my Department introduced a number of contingency measures to support CE schemes including the extension of participant contracts. These measures have continued in particular during Level 5 periods of restriction in place over the course of the last fifteen months.
The current position is that CE participants due to finish on schemes since October 2020, have had their contracts extended on a number of occasions. Over 7,000 CE and Tús participants are benefitting from the latest contract extension date of 2nd July 2021.
This latest extension date is now under active review by my Department, in line with the planned, gradual reopening of the wider economy. It is important to note that when CE participants are eventually due to finish on their respective schemes, this will be undertaken on a coordinated, phased basis over a number of months. This will facilitate the recruitment of new CE participants while ensuring service continuity for the CE schemes.
Some CE schemes, in particular those that provide essential community services, have been able to maintain service delivery while complying with public health restrictions over the Level 5 periods while the activities of many other CE schemes have been significantly curtailed. While referrals to CE placements have continued where possible, numbers have been limited due to the related public health restrictions.
CE schemes face a number of challenges over the coming months as they re-establish the full range of community services available. My priority is to ensure all CE schemes are in a position to get services fully back up and running over the next few months, in line with the phased opening up of the economy, while continuing to comply with public health restrictions.
CE sponsoring authorities are encouraged by my Department to continue to promote the benefits of CE in their local communities. They can advertise their vacancies on www.jobsireland.ie, the Department’s online job advertising and recruitment service for job candidates and employers, including CE sponsors.
Jobseekers are advised to register their interest through this website or by contacting a case officer in their local Intreo Centre who will determine their eligibility for the CE scheme. The facility to register interest in CE schemes was introduced on the website in August 2020 in response to the Covid 19 pandemic.
I am fully committed to the future of CE and will continue to support and improve the programme for the benefit of the CE participants and the valuable contribution being made to local communities throughout the country.