I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 and 202 together.
In June 2017, my colleague, Mr. David Stanton TD., Minister of State for Justice with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, launched the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy for the years 2017-2021 inclusive. This Inclusion Strategy is a cross-Departmental initiative to improve the lives of the Traveller and Roma communities in Ireland. The development of the Strategy involved a comprehensive public consultation process, including two rounds of public meetings and engagement with Traveller organisations at national level. Integral to the finalisation of the Inclusion Strategy was the work of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy Steering Group which has members from relevant Government Departments as well as Traveller and Roma representatives and advocates.
Arising from the consultation process, ten key themes were identified as central to the success of the Inclusion strategy, and two of these relate most directly to employment.
First, the Strategy recognises that “there is a very large disparity between Travellers and non-Travellers in the level of education completed” and that “the labour market disadvantage of Travellers is largely linked to that educational disadvantage.” Accordingly, the Strategy identifies 14 different actions aimed at improving access, participation and outcomes for Travellers and Roma in education in order to achieve outcomes that are equal to those for the majority population.
Employment and the Traveller Economy is also identified as a specific key theme in the strategy and it includes a range of relevant actions. Within this range of actions, my Department and the Department of and Skills is committed to delivering and supporting a range of assistive and targeted measures to increase employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities for Travellers and Roma over the long term by:
- Promoting the availability of existing employment and training services to the Roma and Traveller communities and continuing to ensure promotional and information materials on its schemes are available and accessible via the Department’s website. Work is underway to support transition of DEASP web content to the new Gov.ie website, with transition to begin in 2019. All DEASP content on gov.ie will be in an easy-to-read, plain English format.
- Providing accessible literature on DEASP services. Three plain English booklets – Families and Children, Retired and Older People, Illness and Disability – are now finalised or nearing completion. Hard copies will be distributed to Traveller representatives for distribution to service users.
- Providing tailored supports for the long-term unemployed and for young people to build their confidence and prepare them for the workplace;
- Developing targeted initiatives to increase Traveller and Roma engagement with employment and training services;
- Providing Anti-racism and cultural awareness training for staff under the new shared Civil Service learning and development curriculum.
- Ensuring that Travellers and Roma, under the age of 25, who register as unemployed claimants of Jobseekers’ payments engage with activation case officers on a monthly basis and receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship or traineeship within a period of four months of registering, in line with commitments under the Youth Guarantee.
The National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy is a living document, with monitoring of its implementation a key and integral feature of its success. This whole of Government approach is necessary to the achievement of meaningful change and enhanced employment prospects for Traveller and Roma communities in Ireland.