Offaly Job Clubs under threat claims Sinn Féin TD

Must make a profit to get new contract

Offaly Job Clubs under threat claims Sinn Féin TD

Offaly Job Clubs under threat claims Sinn Féin TD

The Government is rolling out a new local employment system which a Laois-Offaly TD claims threatens the future of existing services in Portlaoise, Tullamore, Portarlington and Birr.

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley made the claim in a statement in which he called on the Government to remove what he termed a 'profit-focused approach' set out in a tender for Local Employment Services (LES).

He also alleged that the tender makes it almost impossible for existing local Job Clubs in Laois /Offaly to apply for the contract.

Dep Stanley claims that the request for tender is open to applications for the rollout of a new model of contracted public employment service in four areas including Laois/Offaly. This is the first of two tenders, he said the terms included in the tender have caused significant concern about the quality and future of local Job Clubs.

“Having been kept in the dark about the changes to Local Employment Services for so long, we are finally seeing a Request for Tender which encourages a ruthless shift to ‘services’ which focus on profit over people. This is unacceptable and must not be allowed to happen," insisted Dep Stanley.

He continued: “There had been much concern that the tender would threaten the community-based and not-for-profit ethos of existing services, which have been very successful and are well-regarded.

“The ‘payment by results’ model put forward in the tender tells us that the government are looking to implement employment services which focus on quantity over quality or more accurately a headage payment.

“This is not the person-centred approach so successfully fostered by the Local Job Clubs and will only result in a focus on profit-driven results which leaves those who need these services behind," he said.

The Sinn Féin TD added that Local Jobs Clubs are also cost-effective.

Portarlington Jobs Clubs for example are able to work with clients who are unemployed and get job placements for them on a budget of between €1,000 and €2,400. Private companies that provide the service through what is called “JobsPath” are costing €11,000 per client to secure a job that lasts more than twelve months.

“People deserve quality employment services and we know that organisations already working in this area have experience, expertise and ethics at the heart of the work they do. Sinn Féin are calling on the Minister for Social Protection to withdraw and review this tender immediately.

“Existing local Job Clubs must be protected here in Laois/Offaly and across the state," he said. 

The TD said the issue was raised by Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane TD with An Tánaiste in the Dáil last week

Job Clubs say they provide a service to assist jobseekers to enter/re-enter employment through the provision of individualized supports, a ‘drop-in’ service, CV preparation, and formal workshops. The Job Club service also aims to enable jobseekers to take positive steps towards realizing their career plans and to explore and follow-up employment opportunities.

Job Clubs say they provide active, practical, and participative supports under the guidance and supervision of a Job Club leader.

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