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Employment Support Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 25 November 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Questions (97)

Richard Boyd Barrett


97. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will report on the roll-out of the Work Placement Experience Programme. [57931/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Work Placement Experience Programme (WPEP) was launched last July 2021 as a key policy initiative under the Government's new national employment services strategy, Pathways to Work 2021-2025. WPEP is a funded work placement scheme to provide training and a quality work experience to unemployed person who have been unemployed for more that six months, which includes time spent on the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP). Participation on WPEP is entirely voluntary.

Payments to participants are €306 per week plus increases for qualified adults and children and underlying entitlement to secondary benefits (such as fuel allowance, Christmas bonus) are also maintained by the participant. The payment is not means assessed and is paid to all participants, regardless of age. The personal rate of payment will increase to €311 in January in consequence of increases approved under Budget 2022.

There are currently 161 participants approved for WPEP of whom 52% are under 30 years of age. The gender split is 43% male and 57% female participants. While most participants have transitioned to WPEP from jobseeker payments 13 have come from a disability payment and 11 from Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

As expected, urban areas such as Dublin and Galway have the highest number of participants with 17% and 12% respectively. The sector with the largest number of WPEP positions have been provided in the Human Health and Social Work Activities sector at 19%. The Information and Communication sector is the next highest with 16%.

All placements will undertake 60 hours of training, to include 20 hours of accredited or sector-recognised training. Options have been created with the Education and Training Board to access a new QQI accredited work placement award which is delivered by the Education and Training Board. To date there have been 21 referrals to QQI level courses. In addition, two WPEP Lunch Bunch webinars have been held to support jobseekers in their job-seeking learning and development to include an outline of training resources on, showcasing the QQI accredited work experience module, other training assets and supports and mindfulness for jobseekers. Host organisations are also supported in their mentoring role for participants with an online mentoring workshop in collaborations with the ETBs.

There are 83 placements currently advertised on jobsireland. Work is ongoing with my Department's employer engagement teams and Intreo Offices in promoting this scheme with employers and jobseekers and I expect the numbers on this scheme to continue to increase over the coming months.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Question No. 98 answered with Question No. 11.