JOBSEEKERS are being offered new training courses to help them find jobs – or else face cuts in their weekly dole payments.
Around 6,500 new training places are being provided to help the long-term unemployed get back to work, with 1,200 reserved for people under 25.
They will be allowed keep their unemployment payments while doing the new courses.
But the Department of Social Protection warned that any unemployed person who refuses to take up a training place they are offered could face cuts in their dole payments of up to €44 per week.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said the new training courses would ensure there was not a "lost generation" of young people who were scarred by long-term unemployment.
Mr Quinn also said there would be benefits for the State from the €20m programme.
"Every one of the people who completes a course like this and moves into a job, that effectively saves the taxpayer €20,000," he said.
The new 'Momentum' programme will offer 62 free full and part-time courses around the country in areas where there is a demand for skilled workers.
Local companies have been consulted about their needs – and courses have been specifically set up to provide them with jobs in digital media, food processing, medical devices, green energy and information technology.
The new programme was launched at Windmill Lane Studios in Ringsend in Dublin by Mr Quinn, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Junior Minister for Education and Training Ciaran Cannon.