Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
117. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a report produced for his Department found that State bodies charged with protecting employment rights were so ineffectual that the entire system is entirely dysfunctional; the steps he intends to take to address the serious shortcoming identified in the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28325/04]
Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Killeen): On foot on an undertaking in the programme for Government to review the functions of the Employment rights bodies, a review group was established in September 2003 to examine the coherence and user-friendliness of procedures operating in the area of employment rights compliance. Membership of the review group consisted of representatives of the bodies covered by the review and representatives of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Written submissions were received from various parties, including the social partners and the bodies covered by the review.
The report of the review group does not use the language nor does it reach the conclusions indicated in the Deputy’s question. The review group found, however, that while the current employment rights adjudication and enforcement system has served employers, workers and their representatives well over the years, it has become overly complex and is considered to function in less than optimal fashion. The review group has formulated recommendations which it believes will enhance the coherence and user-friendliness of the system. Before any definitive proposals are formulated for consideration by Government, an independent party not involved in the review has been asked to undertake a consultative exercise on the report and its recommendations. The exercise will involve the employment rights bodies concerned and the social partners but will not seek to replicate the work of the review group, rather to build on it. Ministers will consider issues arising.
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Martin): Currently, I have no plans to restructure or reorganise FÁS. The structure, organisation and direction of FÁS was set out in its statement of strategy 2002-05. In broad terms, the statement provides for a shift in strategic focus away from dealing with the consequences of unemployment towards mobilising labour supply and providing training for both employed and unemployed alike. I recently met the members of the board of FÁS who are currently engaged in a review process which will lead to a new statement of strategy to cover the period 2006-09. I informed them of my priorities for the organisation, namely, the need to invest consistently and effectively in upskilling the labour force so that it can adapt to ever changing needs and demands of the modern economy; the need to focus increased attention and investment on in-company training so that firms can adapt to competitive challenges and provide rewarding and high quality jobs for employees; the importance of certification as a means of guaranteeing the quality of training; the necessity to ensure active, labour-market programmes can react responsively to the changing needs of the labour market; the need to maximise value for money by consistently focusing on outcomes; the importance of continuing to work in co-operation with other State agencies to contribute to economic and social development; and the necessity of avoiding overlap and duplication.
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