The key objective of activation policy and labour market initiatives is to offer assistance to those most in need of support in securing work and achieving financial self-sufficiency. This policy objective therefore prioritises scarce resources to those in receipt of qualifying welfare payments. Accordingly the employment services and schemes provided by the Department are focused in the first instance on this cohort of unemployed people.
However, many services are available to people who are not in receipt of a social welfare payment. For example employment services, such as advice on job-search activities and the use of online job search tools, are available to people if they register with the Department’s employment services offices regardless of their social welfare status. Further, unemployed persons not in receipt of qualifying payments may also be eligible to avail of up-skilling opportunities, for example through ETB (formerly FÁS) training for unemployed people, but are not eligible to receive a training allowance while undertaking the course.
An unemployed person who does not qualify for a social welfare payment due to the assessment of their means may be eligible to sign for social insurance contribution credits. Persons who sign for credits for three months (78 days) of the last six months are eligible to participate in the JobBridge programme. Persons signing on for credits for 12 months or longer over the previous 18 months are entitled to participate on Momentum courses through Solas, provided that they have been actively seeking work, however they will not receive any payment. Persons signing for credits for six months or more are entitled to participate on ETB-run VTOS courses subject to availability. In the case of VTOS courses, participants do not receive a training allowance but may receive travel and lunch allowances. Springboard and Skillnets courses for unemployed people, funded through the Department of Education and Skills, are also open to people regardless of their social welfare status.
It is recognised that there is a need to improve the promotion of and communication around existing activation options. In this regard, for example, the DSP Employer Engagement Unit has conducted a number of career and job fairs in 2014 and 2015 at which information on activation options is made available.
In short, the Government is committed to supporting as many people as possible to participate more fully in employment and to become more self-sufficient by providing supports that address barriers.