Saturday 24 February 2018

Over 57,000 jobless join back-to-work programmes

Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

MORE than 57,000 people are now taking part in government back-to-work schemes targeted at the long-term unemployed.

New figures from the Central Statistics Office show a 15pc increase in the numbers taking part in programmes such as JobBridge, Community Employment, and FAS full-time training places.

The JobBridge scheme, which provides work placements to people who keep their social welfare payments, has seen a sixfold surge from 825 participants in August 2011 when it had just been rolled out, to 4,819 this year.

There are also over 11,000 people availing of Back to Work allowances for the self-employed trying to get a new business going.

The latest CSO figures also show that the total number of people signing on the Live Register fell by almost 27,000 last month.

But many of those leaving it were teachers taking up new posts in September or students enrolling in courses, meaning the seasonally adjusted fall was much lower at just 400.

Some 429,335 people are now on the dole, and the unemployment rate is unchanged at 14.8pc, the figures show.

That is 8,106 fewer than this time last year and the overall trend continues to be one of movement within a small range, the CSO said.

The number of long-term claimants continued to rise with 192,778 people or almost 45pc of the total signing on for a year or more -- and this doesn't include the 57,749 taking part in back-to-work schemes.

The number of people aged under 25 on the Live Register continued to fall as it has every month for two years and this is believed to be linked to high emigration and further education opportunities.

There are now 73,698 people under 25 signing on, which is down over 7,000 since this time last year.

Failing

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association said the figures showed the Government's action plan for jobs was failing miserably.

"No amount of long-fingered promises of multinational jobs tomorrow will satisfy the crying need for local jobs today," said ISME chief executive Mark Fielding.

Davy stockbrokers analyst David McNamara said that although there were signs of stabilisation in the jobless figures, they had not shown a significant decline.

The jobless rate is likely to stay high for a number of years, a research paper by two economists at the Central Bank has concluded.

Economic growth may return in two to three years but unemployment is likely to "remain elevated for some time".

The study, conducted by Maria Woods and Siobhan O'Connell, examined financial crashes in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Japan.

The authors said there were similarities between the downturns experienced in Finland and in Ireland.

"Drawing on the Finnish experience, it is clear that unemployment may remain elevated for some time in Ireland," the report warned.

Irish Independent

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