Written Answers. - Community Employment Schemes.

John Gormley

Ceist:

164 Mr. Gormley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will report on the apparent contradiction between the Deloitte & Touche report commissioned by her Department into community employment schemes recommending a cut in 8,000 community employment places and the commitments for a provision of 10,000 places under Partnership 2000; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1516/99]

John Gormley

Ceist:

165 Mr. Gormley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will report on plans to provide an alternative to community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1517/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 165 together.

The Deloitte & Touche review of community employment found that it is largely meeting its objective of providing temporary work experience and training for the long-term unemployed and socially excluded and enhancing their prospects of obtaining jobs in the open labour market. The review also recommended that the number of places on the programme should be reduced by 6,000 to 8,000 to reflect the current buoyant labour market; and that to enhance the chances of participants in community employment subsequently finding jobs there should be a greater emphasis in the programme on training, progression and linkages to the labour market. FÁS is implementing these qualitative changes.
There is no contradiction between reducing the number of places on community employment and fulfiling the terms of Paragraph 4.24 of P2000 to provide an additional 10,000 labour market interaction places over the lifetime of the programme. The challenge is to come up with places that best serve the interests of participants in getting a job and that also respond to the needs of the labour market. That is what the Government has sought to do in the 1999 Estimates and budget.
In 1999 my Department will provide for an average of 37,500 places on community employment, a reduction of 2,500 on the 40,000 CE places at the time P2000 was agreed. The revised Estimate for my Department also provides for 10,275 additional places on other active labour market initiatives, including 875 new job initiative places, 1,500 bridging programme places to enable long-term unemployed to enter mainstream training, 5,200 job club places including 800 specifically reserved for lone parents, and 800 part-time training places for lone parents. The objective is to enhance the range of places, to focus on programmes with the best employability outcomes and to target places at specific disadvantaged cohorts in the labour market.
Since P2000 was agreed there has been an overall increase in labour market reintegration places for unemployed persons of at least 18,000 – i.e. Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment programme places plus back to work allowances and back to education allowance – with over 10,000 of these explicitly reserved for the long-term unemployed, very long-term unemployed and socially excluded, and with long-term unemployed benefiting from many of the remainder.