The Minister for Education is misleading the public by claiming that his school works programme will result in 3,000 new jobs that would not otherwise have been created, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Brendan Smith TD. The Minister has now admitted that bulk of the funding for primary and post-primary refurbishments has been taken from the college capital fund.
Deputy Smith said, “We all want and will welcome genuine job creation, but we need to be honest with the people. Minister Ruairí Quinn is basically taking €20 million that was allocated to the Department of Education for third level building works and moving it to primary and post-primary building works. In other words, construction workers that would have been employed for work on college improvements may now be employed to work on refurbishing schools. The Minister is suggesting that this will result in a total of 3,000 “new” jobs without acknowledging the jobs cost elsewhere.
“While I very much welcome moves to continue to improve our schools, it is wrong for the government to claim that they are responsible for investing an extra €30 million in our education infrastructure. Two thirds of this was already allocated to the Department’s capital budget by the previous government.
“Like many of the projects announced in the jobs initiative, the school works scheme is largely just existing investment repackaged. Overall, 70% of the funding announced for education, roads and retrofitting in the jobs initiative is actually taken from existing allocations. The concern is that much of this amounts is spin rather than substance from the Fine Gael/Labour government.”