I propose to take Questions Nos. 415, 416, 418 to 420, inclusive, 422 and 423 together.
JobPath is a new programme of employment activation aimed specifically at the long-term unemployed and those most distant from the labour market. The allocation of additional resources to the activation of long term unemployed people was the focus of an updated “Pathways to Work” policy statement published in July 2013 (PTW 2013). The Department examined various resourcing and contracting options, and taking note of recommendations by the OECD among others, the Department has decided to procure additional capacity from providers with expertise and experience in the provision of employment supports or related services. This additional capacity will augment the Department’s own activation capacity as well as that already contracted with the providers of Local Employment Services (LES).
JobPath contractors have not yet been appointed. A request for tenders issued on 12 December 2013 with a closing date of 28 February 2014. Taking account of the time required for the tender evaluation process, it is expected that contracts will be awarded in April/May 2014. It is expected that successful tenderers will require about 6 months to set up operations following contract award. On this basis JobPath should commence operations towards the end of this year at which point the department will commence scheduling jobseekers for referral.
Tender documentation has been published on www.etenders.gov.ie while information on JobPath is available on www.welfare.ie.
Contractors will be paid a mixture of registration fees and job sustainment fees. The registration fees will be paid upon completion of a personal progression plan for each jobseeker. However the bulk of income will be derived from job sustainment fees. These payments will be made only if the jobseeker secures employment while on the JobPath programme and only in respect of discrete periods of sustained employment of 13 weeks up to a maximum of 52 weeks. Accordingly, the overall cost of JobPath will be determined by the prices that are agreed as well as the number of jobseekers who complete periods of sustained employment.
It is important to note that JobPath will deliver an individual case management service for all clients referred to assist them in removing barriers to employment. This case management service will be delivered over the 12 month period that clients are engaged on the JobPath programme.
There are a number of points worthy of note.
First, successful tenderers will not be able to recover their costs or make any profit unless they place jobseekers into sustained employment.
Second, the Department has built in a mechanism to discount fees should overall employment levels exceed forecasted levels thus restricting successful tenderers from benefitting as a result of any general improvement in economic conditions.
Third, the Department has specified retention fee arrangements to ensure that contractors meet certain service quality levels.
Finally a significant advantage of the approach is that it enables the Government to match the cost of achieving an employment outcome with the saving from reduced welfare payments, this is an important consideration in the context of the constraints on public expenditure.
For the purposes of the tender, the Department estimated that about 110,000 clients per annum may be referred to JobPath over a four year period. Tenderers are expected to commit in their tender responses to improve progression rate into employment by 30% compared to the historic progression for such clients.
Under the Freedom of Information Acts a person has a right of access to a record held by a person providing a service for a public body under a contract for services in so far as it relates to the service. Therefore JobPath contractors will be subject to these provisions.