Offaly TD Barry Cowen has spoken out against the government's Jobpath activation scheme at the launch of a Fianna Fail Community Employment Bill.
“The Government must stop its attempt to implement a ‘one-size fits all approach’ to Job Activation, and ensure that suitable participants are enabled to take part in very worthwhile and important community-based schemes,” Barry Cowen said.
Deputy Cowen was commenting as his party launched a new bill called the Social Welfare (Community Employment) Bill 2018, to prevent Jobpath, the labour activation initiative, from denying participants from taking up a place on a Community Employment (CE) Scheme, the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) or the Tús Scheme.
“There seems to be a prioritisation from the Government to steer people onto Jobpath, which is delivered by two private companies, and away from other activation schemes," Barry commented.
“Our bill gives a legal entitlement to a person to opt out from a Jobpath scheme to take part in a Community Employment Scheme, a Tús Scheme or a Rural Social Scheme, in circumstances where a place on any of these schemes becomes available," he claimed.
“Many people have been in touch with me and colleagues from my party to express their concern at attempts to unfairly coerce them into Jobpath. For many reasons, they would prefer to take up place on a CE, RSS or Tús scheme, which in many instances is more appropriate and suitable to their needs."
“It makes no sense to me to attempt to send unemployed people in their late 50s or early 60s onto a Jobpath scheme when there are other, more suitable schemes," he continued.
“Furthermore, the Bill will also prevent Jobpath, which is a payment by results model and operated on behalf of the Department by two private companies, from side-lining CE, RSS and Tús schemes, which are an integral to the social fabric of communities the length and breadth of the country."
“There is unease among both participants and management alike in CE, RSS and Tús schemes that this is a back door attempt to wind them down. We need to remember that as well as providing employment and training options for people, these schemes also provide invaluable supports to community, voluntary and sporting organisations."
“The Government must accept that a one-size fits all approach is not the most appropriate way to supporting those seeking new employment or training opportunities,” concluded Cowen.