News Editorial

Sunday 21 September 2014

Editorial: Fresh ideas needed to help long-term jobless off dole queue

Published 31/03/2014 | 02:30

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Many people on the dole would welcome an opportunity to do some kind of work, which might help them back into the labour force. Apart from the loss of income, unemployment brings with it a sense of dislocation from the rest of society accompanied at times by doubts about personal worth.

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This is especially true for those who have worked most of their adult lives and are now among the ranks of the long-term unemployed.

For all these reasons we must look positively at all efforts to help unemployed people somehow re-connect with the outside world. If we cannot get an unemployed person a job, we must look to training, work experience and other activation schemes.

So, it is with great regret that we raise serious questions about one such activation mechanism, the 'Gateways Initiative'. This scheme proposed giving 3,000 long-term unemployed people 19.5 hours' work each week in local councils.

For the most part those participating in the scheme would get an extra €20 per week on top of their dole. Those chosen for the scheme risked having their dole cut or reduced if they failed to participate without a valid reason.

Today this newspaper brings you news of what is a disastrous take-up in the scheme. By now the Social Protection Department had hoped to have all 3,000 participants in place.

In reality, figures show that they have 92. The take-up suggests that our policy officials should look at this one again. Perhaps they can do better than an added incentive of €1 per hour?

Perhaps there are other blockages which can be addressed? For all the reality of this low uptake, there is strong anecdotal evidence that many of our long-term unemployed would welcome any help to re-connect with the labour market. But on this evidence the 'Gateways Initiative' as currently constructed is not the way forward.

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