Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Employment Generation.


asked the Minister for Labour if he will make a statement on the plans, if any, he has to provide employment in outer city housing estates.

The Deputy will be aware of the Government's general economic policies and programmes, including the Programme for National Recovery, which are framed to develop an environment conducive to increasing the overall level of employment. These measures will contribute to expanding employment opportunities in outer-city housing estates.

In my own area of responsibility, the major contributions which can be made to employment generation centre on developing a satisfactory industrial relations climate; assisting industry in improving competitiveness by enhancing the skills and competence of its work force through training; and assisting first time job seekers and the unemployed through the provision of employment and training programmes.

Since 1 January 1988 An Foras Áiseanna Saothair — FÁS — is responsible for the operation of employment and training programmes. The main task of FÁS is to help those without jobs to find work and to ensure that people entering the labour market are adequately trained and possess the skills relevant to labour market needs. It is my policy that FÁS should be as responsive as possible to local needs.

The social employment scheme, the enterprise scheme, the teamwork scheme, the community enterprise programme and the community youth training programme are of particular relevance in assisting local groups and individuals to provide employment at local level. It is my hope that voluntary groups in outer-city housing estates should avail of these schemes to the greatest extent possible.

Under the 1987 Labour Services Act the day-to-day administration of training and employment schemes is a matter for FÁS. Should the Deputy require further information on the schemes, including how particular outer-city housing estates could benefit from them, he should contact FÁS direct.

Does the Minister not agree he is giving no clear indication in his reply that he is paying particular attention to the outer-city housing estates around the major cities such as Dublin. For example, in my own constituency of Tallaght almost 100,000 people have been put out there and no consideration appears to be given to them. Has the Minister any specific plans to deal with the appallingly high, well above national average levels of unemployment that are in these estates? The people who have been put out there have been forgotten about by this Government and by the Department. No special attention has been given to them at all. There are just houses. There are no industries or jobs, nothing for the people. We are still waiting to hear from the Minister on the local initiative, despite his promises before Christmas. It is now after Christmas and we are still waiting. Is the Minister going to give any special attention to those huge urban conglomerations, mostly local authority housing, that have been put there? We cannot be put off by this waffle about schemes here and schemes there. We want to know what jobs will come up there.

I can only speak for the areas under my control. I know the particular scheme which the Deputy has referred to in Tallaght. Unfortunately, it is still under review and it is not an easy issue to resolve. It was being dealt with before by the Youth Employment Agency. With regard to other schemes, it is open to communities to apply to take up places under the schemes, such as the social employment scheme and the Teamwork scheme. A substantial number of communities have done so. The figure at the end of December for the take-up rate for the social employment scheme alone was over 11,000. I know they are part time, short term jobs but they are some of the things which the Deputy has referred to. Those schemes are available for any community and any area in the outer-city may apply for them.

Let us get down to specifics, there are some 90,000 people in Tallaght. Will the Minister give the House an estimate, even an approximate estimate, of how many real jobs he, as Minister for Labour, reckons will be created to serve those people in that outer-city housing estate in 1988? He is the Minister for Labour.

Is the Deputy talking about jobs created under the schemes or jobs generally?

I am talking about real jobs.

Unfortunately, I am not the Minister for Industry and Commerce, but I am sure I could get the Deputy the information on the schemes being operated by FÁS in the area of Tallaght. I am sure there are quite a number of schemes. Again, I repeat that it is open to any of the communities in Tallaght to apply for any of the Teamwork or enterprise schemes and to be assessed on the same basis as anywhere else in the country.

They could not afford the postage stamp on a letter.

There is an excellent staff in the FÁS office in Tallaght who would be available to help them.

Does the Minister realise the size of Tallaght? It is impossible for some people living in Tallaght to get to Tallaght village because they cannot afford it.

Will the Minister agree that some of the schemes he has mentioned, specifically Teamwork and the social employment scheme, depend for their success on an organised and motivated local community effort? Does he agree that the experience to date has been that the schemes seem to take more naturally in rural areas where you are dealing with a smaller and perhaps more tightly knit community and that there is a need for a special effort in some of the bigger newer housing estates in urban areas?

That has been the experience to date in the tightly knit local communities, particularly rural communities. The closely knit community helps because there are recognised leaders in the community. However, there are excellent examples in the city, although I would admit that there are not as many localities. Some of the notable social employment schemes around the city have involved sponsors who came forward from the community to help to organise them. However, there is a difficulty.

To some extent the Minister has dealt with part of my question. First, what efforts are being made to actually promote the schemes particularly in areas of extremely high unemployment and deprivation, where the social infrastructure is not very well developed? Are the schemes promoted in those areas or are there plans to engage in promotion of the schemes or to develop people's skills so that they can engage in these schemes? Secondly, on a previous occasion we questioned the effectiveness of some of the schemes, particularly the enterprise allowance scheme. At that time we knew that there was a lot of uptake for the scheme, although there was no indication of what long term jobs were developing out of them. Is there any further information on that point?

First, FÁS have undertaken, now that they have been amalgamated into one unit to have a further publicity drive and to get the information on the schemes out to the communities both in urban and rural areas. I think the first and perhaps the second leaflets have actually gone out. Again, I will take that point up because I think it is important. Following a review by the previous Government on the enterprise allowance scheme, there were a number of amendments made to tighten up the scheme and try to ensure that there would be more real and lasting jobs. A report which will be completed shortly was commissioned by the previous Government to examine that question. We will await the finding of that report before making any changes.

I wish to raise on the Adjournment, a Cheann Comhairle, the question of a decision being taken by the Minister for Education in regard to the site for the second level school at Ashbourne, County Meath.

I will communicate with Deputy John Bruton in that respect.

I am still on this question.

I was rather hoping to get on to other questions. I am concerned about the lack of progress at Question Time today and I should like very much to get on to other Members' questions. I would hope for the co-operation of Members in that regard.

Would the Minister accept that in the case of rural areas it is perhaps reasonable to anticipate that there will be ideas and suggestions coming forward to which FÁS can respond? However, would he accept that in the case of some of these areas that a promotion campaign of itself will not produce sufficient projects? Would he consider asking FÁS to assign people to act as facilitators in some of these areas of high unemployment to get ideas and projects going?

I accept that point. For the information of all Deputies, the regional structure whereby there would be a regional headquarters in communities has not finally been decided yet, but in Dublin there would probably be two or three. The regions around the country are fairly well established. That should help because, as Deputy Taylor has said it would save people having to identify back to the head office with the attendant difficulties in transport and finance. It should be easier to organise once it is on a regional basis. It is hoped that those regions will be set up by the end of this month.

Finally, may I have an answer on the Kiltalown project which will create some employment locally at very little expense?

It is a rather specific question.

I know of Deputy Taylor's great desire to come to a conclusion on this. The pressure he has put on me has helped me to pressure others.

That is my job.

I accept that and I hope to have a conclusion to it in the next week or two.