15 Aug 2022

Taoiseach and Ministers launch new jobs programme in Dundalk this morning

Micheal Martin

Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced a raft of new measures to increase employment across Ireland in Dundalk today

The Government unveiled a new jobs plan to get people back to work as the pandemic recedes at a launch event in Dundalk today.

The Pathways to Work plan was launched in the Advanced Manufacturing & Technology Training Centre of Excellence in Dundalk by multiple Ministers, including the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin.

According to the Government, the key commitments of the plan are to reduce long term unemployment across the country, with a particular focus on youth unemployment.

Ministers want to see 75,000 long-term unemployed people brought into employment by July 2023, and reduce youth unemployment to 12.5%.

Speaking at the launch this morning, the Taoiseach said that the plan aims to exceed Ireland’s employment levels before the Covid-19 pandemic hit by 2024.

“The overall ambition of the Plan is to exceed pre-crisis employment levels by reaching 2.5 million people in work by 2024. Crucially, though, these jobs will be more productive, more resilient and more secure,” said the Taoiseach.

“Government is committed to delivering on the ambitions and commitments set out in the strategy in order to drive a jobs-led economic recovery, to build back better, and to build back fairer.”

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said that the plan is to ensure that people are supported as they return to work.

“It’s about leaving nobody behind, providing new opportunities to retrain and re-skill and, above all, giving people the support they need to secure quality, sustainable employment,” said Minister Humphreys.

“This is important for our society, our economy and for every unemployed person, whether they lost their jobs due to COVID or who were already unemployed pre-COVID.

Among the supports announced by the Government include recruitment subsidies between €7,500 and €10,000 for employers who take people off the live register.

Welfare reform is also within the plan, with the government to use a system like the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, where short term jobseeker payments will be based on previous incomes.

The plan will also seek to develop a proposal for a basic income guarantee.

Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris said that the government want to get people into good sustainable jobs.

“My Department has a responsibility to ensure people have the right skills. Today, we are also announcing an important initiative with Skillnet Ireland and Technology Ireland to assist unemployed individuals to develop core and advanced digital skills to get employment in areas where the economy is growing,” said Minister Harris.

“Tech in Ireland is responding to what employers need and ensures people who have lost their jobs have a pathway to a new and sustainable career.”

There will be new targeted employment supports for groups who face difficulties in entering the workforce, like people with disabilities, lone parents and minority groups like travellers.

A new Work Experience Programme was also announced at the launch, with Minister Humphreys saying that it will “provide unemployed people with the opportunity to build their work experience and avail of accredited training and development opportunities”.

The plan, which will be available to those who have been unemployed for six months, will see workers be paid €306 a week for 30 hours.

Criticism has been levelled at the government for the plan, however, with some TD’s labelling it a continuation of the Jobridge programme.

Overall responsibility for the programme will rest with the Department of Social Protection, with Minister Humphreys encouraging people to get involved.

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