THE Government is going to take 2,000 people off the dole queues by expanding the number of places on the community employment scheme.
It will bring the number of people working on local childcare, sports and meals-on-wheels projects to over 25,000.
The move represents an endorsement of community employment (CE) schemes, after the Economic and Social Research Institute had criticised their failure to progress enough people into jobs.
Another report this week warned that people on the schemes for over a year might become "institutionalised".
But Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, who travelled to Waterford to visit CE schemes there, said they played a vital role for unemployed people by developing their skills, experience and confidence.
"Community employment is also of immense benefit to the local communities," she said.
Around 500 of the new places will be reserved for childcare services and another 500 for general social and healthcare services.
The news has been welcomed by Labour backbenchers. Dublin North East TD John Lyons said the schemes helped not only those who needed to develop specific skills, but also those who were nearing the end of their working lives and would find it hard to get another job.
"The service it (the scheme) offers is invaluable," he said.