Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Employment & Social Protection Willie O’Dea TD says people who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic must be given the opportunity to retrain and reskill.

He explained, “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every facet of life and over one million workers in Ireland are currently relying on some form of State income support. While these numbers will decline as the economy gradually reopens, there are fears that hundreds of thousands of people may be left long-term unemployed, even after restrictions are eased.

“A proactive approach needs to be taken now to address this issue to ensure that opportunities are available to people to retrain or reskill. I believe that Local Employment Services need to take a central role in this, and their position should be secured in this regard as they have the experience and the expertise to support individuals back into employment.

“In addition, the apprenticeship sector also needs to be expanded, both in scale and diversity, to provide different pathways back into employment.

“We are in unprecedented times and every effort must be made to support people who have lost their jobs. We need to act now to prevent as many people as feasibly possible from becoming long-term unemployed so that we can negate the very serious consequences that this would have on the person, society and the economy as a whole”.