Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs & Enterprise Niall Collins has hit out at Fine Gael for failing to address the unacceptable level of long term unemployment in the country.

Deputy Collins accused Fine Gael of ignoring the needs of those who have been unemployed for longer than 12 months.

“It seems to me that they have given up on this section of society, and have chosen to target those who are unemployed for shorter periods of time with activation measures.

“Despite, unemployment figures dropping in the last five years, the latest CSO figures show that there are still some 78,700 people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more.

“That’s 54% of the total number of people unemployed in the State. The Government has been quite successful at targeting low hanging fruit but have failed to address long term unemployment.

“There has been a lot of back slapping and self-congratulations by Government ministers in recent weeks, but the underlying challenge of stubborn long-term unemployment must be addressed.

“We know, from EU surveys, that those who have been unemployed for long periods of time have a lower chance, about 50% lower, of finding employment than the short-term unemployed. This structural pattern in the labour market needs to be accepted by the Government, and addressed urgently.

“With just one in nine long term unemployed being in full time employment 12 months later, according to the Brookings Institute, new measures are needed to counter this challenge to our labour market.

“Those who are unemployed on a long term basis risk permanent skill loss making their return to future employment even less likely. In turn, they may leave the labour market altogether resulting in socio-economic damage to them, their families and our country.

“Two government departments should be working to address this problem, yet I see little or no evidence of measures that are being rolled out.

“Minister Varadkar needs to revisit the activation schemes that his department is funding and providing as it seems to me that they aren’t working,” concluded Collins.