Long-term jobless face wait of four years, says Taoiseach
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has set a target of getting all long-term unemployed people back in the workplace or in training by the end of his term in office.
The 177,000 people who have been out of work for a year or more currently account for more than half of the 314,700 people on the dole.
Mr Kenny said he wanted to help this group of people before his term ended in 2016.
"I hope that by the end of this Government's period that anybody who's currently on long-term unemployment will be off long-term unemployment and will either be back in the world of work, or will have involved themselves in upskilling or changes of direction in terms of courses or whatever," he said.
The Government's current target is to create 100,000 extra jobs by 2015 -- which would still leave large numbers of short-term and long-term unemployed people without work. But Mr Kenny is covering himself by also saying he wants to get them into training.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton is rolling out a new strategy next month to provide better training, education and work placement courses for the unemployed.
Mr Kenny said there would be a big focus on these "labour activation" measures as a result of Ms Burton's "Pathways to Work" plan.
"There's about €1bn spent on this every year. But obviously we want to focus on getting people off the unemployment lists and off the Live Register and into the world of work," he said.
The new agency to replace FAS -- known as Solas -- is due to come into operation on January 1. The idea is that it will operate a wider variety of more relevant courses -- and there will be a new service in the Department of Social Protection to ensure that jobseekers are quickly placed on them. Those who do not co-operate will have their dole payments cut or cancelled altogether.