Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O’Dea has welcomed the latest Live Register figures, which show a fall in the numbers signing on, but says he has a number of concerns about emerging trends.  The latest statistics reveal that 3,400 fewer people were on the Live Register in April, compared to the previous month.

Deputy O’Dea commented, “While the fall in the number of people signing on the Live Register is a welcome development, the fact that almost 393,000 people are still not in full time employment is worrying.  Almost half of those signing on are long term unemployed, and it appears as if this group is being left behind in the economic recovery.  Evidence suggests that the longer a person is out of work the more difficult it becomes for them to return to the workplace, and this is an area that the Government needs to focus on.

“One of the few measures Minister Burton has brought in to manage the problem of long term unemployment is the Job Path scheme, which will see people on the Live Register forced to work for local authorities for an extra €20 a week.  Questions have already been raised about the merits of this scheme; whether it will improve job prospects, or if it’s merely another attempt to massage the Live Register figures.  I’m concerned about reports today which claim that the running of this scheme is being outsourced to the private sector and not being kept within the Department.  This could lead to people being placed on work or training schemes in order to fill gaps, rather than selecting people based on suitability. Almost 85,000 people are on Government activation programmes, either in education or training schemes, however, it’s unclear how successful these schemes are in creating sustainable jobs for the participants. 

“What’s more worrying is the high level of young people out of work and not in education.  Recent figures, confirmed by Minister Burton, reveal there are 85,200 people under the age of 26 are neither earning nor learning.  The Government had promised a job, work experience, apprenticeship or training to every young person between the ages of 18 and 24 four months after finishing school or becoming unemployed under the Youth Guarantee.  We’re still waiting for the scheme to be rolled out.  These figures are further proof of the Minister’s failure to properly address the issue.  These activation schemes are not addressing the problem, they’re merely masking the true extent of the jobless crisis.