Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
232. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an explanation for the variance of the figures relating to the numbers of persons eligible for the European globalisation fund application for redundant construction workers (details supplied); if he will confirm the number of redundant construction workers who are actually eligible to access interventions funded under this programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1029/12]
Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): On 9 June 2010 Ireland submitted three applications for combined EGF co-financing of €35.7m in respect of an affected population of 9,089 former workers who, based on evidence of statutory redundancy payments and on apprenticeship information held by FÁS, had been recorded as having been made redundant in the relevant NACE 41, 43 and 71 construction sub-sectors between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010.
Of the affected population of 9,089 workers, it was estimated that a total of 5,987 clients would access services. This estimate constitutes the targeted population figure required as part of the EGF application process and is sometimes quoted by the European Commission. However, all persons within the wider affected population are potentially eligible for EGF supports.
Extensive analysis and amalgamation of data from all relevant sources took place in November 2011 which yielded a number of duplicate entries. The affected population was subsequently revised downwards to 8,925. A subsequent control identified one ineligible person bringing the affected population total to 8,924.
Of this number, 8,779 EGF eligible clients were recorded as having a home address in this jurisdiction and letters of notification of EGF services subsequently issued on 19 December 2011 to all these persons. The other persons do not have a recorded address in the State, such as would indicate their availability to take up offers of retraining or upskilling in the State.
233. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 166 of 29 November 2011, the reason he can state that 4,500 interventions have been commenced for some of the redundant construction workers eligible for European globalisation fund support when at the time of replying to the Parliamentary Question none of the eligible construction workers had been contacted by him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1030/12]
236. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if, with respect to the EU regulations governing the operation of the European globalisation fund, he has an operational definition of the requirement for EGF funded interventions to be complimentary to actions of member states at national, regional and local level as detailed in Article 6 of the regulations; his views that active labour market interventions available to workers from existing state bodies such as FÁS can be considered as complimentary under the terms of the EGF regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1033/12]
My Department estimated in late November 2011 that at least 4,500 interventions had been commenced in the areas of guidance, training and third level education for relevant redundant workers included in the three separate EGF construction sector applications submitted to the European Commission and subsequently approved. This estimate was based on data supplied by, inter alia, FÁS and the Department of Social Protection.
These interventions were provided through exclusively national funding prior to the recent receipt of EU monies under the EGF. A significant element of these interventions related to redundant apprentices. They were included in the applications for EGF support to the EU and so may be co-financed with those funds. There is no requirement to inform each individual in advance of approval for EGF support from the EU, of the potential of EU co-financing under the EGF. Moreover, the reimbursement of up to 65% of validated expenditure on these measures, allows for greater national funding to be targeted at the generality of activation measures at a time of significant constraints on the public finances.
My Department has been very flexible in its interpretation of this term in its implementation of EGF programmes to date. The European Commission has approved all of the measures included in the three Irish applications for EGF co-financing for the relevant cohort of redundant construction workers and has to date raised no issue as regards the complementary nature of such measures.
In all EGF programmes to date, efforts have been made, where possible and appropriate, to design specific tailored interventions as well as providing more mainstream, established interventions. For example, a system of EGF training grants has been operated whereby EGF eligible persons may avail of privately provided training and education opportunities subject to relevant scheme requirements in addition to, or in lieu of, training and education provided through publicly funded training bodies and educational institutions. The provision of extra places in FÁS or VEC training or upskilling programmes is complementary to existing provision, as is the provision of places on other training and education programmes that are relevant to labour market needs and which are recognised through accreditation or other recognition by relevant industry sectors.
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