The core issue raised by the Deputy’s correspondent relates to my Department’s activation services and the Personal Progression Plan. The Deputy will be aware the primary goal of my Department’s activation and employment services is to move people from full or part time unemployment to full-time, sustainable employment. The Social Welfare (Consolidated) Act 2005, as amended, specifies that participation in activation meetings is mandatory and this obligation applies irrespective of whether the service is provided by my Department’s own case officers or those advisors employed by external contractors such as the Local Employment Services or the JobPath Service.
Participants with the JobPath service are not required to sign a contract with the JobPath companies but they are, in the same manner as all customers referred to any of the other Department’s activation services, requested to agree and sign a personal progression plan (PPP). The PPP is a joint agreement between the customer and their personal advisor and is an integral part of the activation process. The PPP includes an agreed schedule of job-focused activities, actions and targets, personalised to take account of the person’s specific qualifications and employment preferences. The contents of the PPP may change during the person’s engagement with the service as they develop new skills or experience which may broaden their employment preferences.
Failure to engage with the activation service as required may result in the jobseeker’s payment being reduced or temporarily suspended, .the process for sanctioning clients who do not engage with the JobPath activation process is exactly the same as the process for clients who fail to engage with the Department’s other activation services provided by Intreo Centres, Local Employment Services and Job Clubs.
It is important to say that all decisions regarding a person’s welfare entitlements while on JobPath are taken only by officials of my Department and not by the JobPath providers and my Department will investigate any specific complaint raised by a participant with the service.
My department, in January of this year, published a cohort performance report (available on welfare.ie) for the service, which showed that of the jobseekers who commenced with the service (in the four cohorts between July 2015 and June 2016) that 25% had obtained employment:18% full-time, 4% part–time and 3% self-employed.
The overall response of participants with JobPath to date has also been very positive. My Department published the results of an independent customer satisfaction survey which indicated that between 76% and 81% of customers were satisfied with the service provided and between 5% and 8% expressed dissatisfaction.
I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.