Limerick East): The EU target to give 40 per cent of people with disabilities sheltered and supported employment relates to the target for trainees with disabilities undergoing training under the Operational Programme for Human Resource Development 1994-99.
At the outset of this programme, targets were established including a 40 per cent target for trainees progressing to sheltered or supported work. The end of year 1995 figures indicate that almost half — 20 per cent — of this target has been reached after the first two years.
My Department along with the National Rehabilitation Board, which administers ESF funding on behalf of my Department, are constantly looking at ways to ensure that trainees on completion of training achieve their fullest potential. In this regard, it is essential that there are adequate sheltered/ supported employment opportunities available to meet this demand. The report of the Review Group on Sensory and Physical Disability, which will be finalised shortly, will be making a number of recommendations in this area. In addition, the National Advisory Committee on Training and Employment which was established by the NRB to advise on issues relating to the training and employment of people with disabilities set up a steering committee in 1996 to specifically examine the position in regard to sheltered-supported employment. The NRB hopes to have the report of this committee in 1997 at which time it will be necessary to examine any gaps in service provision identified in the committee's report.
I might also add that in the context of preparing a response to the ESF evaluation unit report on training for people with disabilities, which was published earlier this year, my Department will shortly be inviting submissions from service providers, people with disabilities and other interested parties regarding the provision of training. One of the areas to be examined will be the outcomes of training.