Written Answers - Community Employment Schemes.

Wednesday, 29 September 2004

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 589 No. 1

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  196.  Ms M. Wallace  Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for  Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney   Enterprise, Trade and Employment if consideration will be given to relaxing the three year rule on community employment schemes for persons who are over 60 to take into consideration the unrealistic expectation of developing a career when in such close proximity to pension age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21555/04]

  210.  Mr. Howlin  Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for  Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney   Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the capping off of FÁS community employment schemes by restricting participation to a lifetime total of three years will impact seriously on many community employment schemes in County Wexford whose participants are aged 40 to 55 and have difficulty gaining meaningful mainstream employment; if she will review the capping off restriction to take account of particular difficulties of more mature age cohorts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22278/04]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Fahey): Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 and 210 together.

As part of the Government’s decision in 1999 to restructure community employment, CE, future participation in CE by an individual was capped at three years, effective from April 2000. [104]All time worked on CE after this date is taken into account by FÁS when determining an individual’s eligibility for the programme. This change was introduced to discourage repeated participation in CE and to encourage unemployed persons to avail of training-education options where possible, which are shown to have more successful progression outcomes for individuals.

The three year cap was amended in August 2001 to allow a limited number of particularly disadvantaged persons to remain on the programme for a further period. FÁS considers participants for such an extension if on reaching the end of their normal entitlements on CE they are likely to experience difficulty in getting employment. A number of CE participants have difficulty in progressing to open labour market employment due to their age, literacy or numeracy problems or a lack of suitable jobs available locally.

The terms of participation on CE are under continuing review. In this regard, senior officials in my Department are currently examining submissions received from the social partners in response to a Government consultation paper on the future of active labour market programmes. I intend to meet with the social partner representatives in the near future to discuss their responses.

The outcome of this process will be taken into account by the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion, which will consider the matter further.


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