THE state programme to get people back to work is making the unemployment crisis worse.
he damning results of an Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) study showed a 17pc reduction in the chances of getting a job for those on the government programme.
And it concluded that those who job-hunt alone are more likely to get work than if they went through the National Employment Action Plan (NEAP), in place since 1998.
The ESRI believes that the three key reasons for the failure are:
- poor advice from officials charged with helping people to find work.
- Lack of monitoring to see how actively unemployed people were seeking work.
- lack of sanctions on the workshy.
The revelation comes as 439,000 languish on the dole queues -- and just days after the Government announced its much-vaunted new plan in a bid to create jobs.
The ESRI also discovered that more than half of those unemployed who needed help to find work "weren't identified" or weren't eligible for the NEAP, which has been in place since 1998.
Last night one of the study's authors, Elish Kelly, said there was "no denying" that those who job-hunted alone were more likely to find work.
"Those who were not getting advice (from NEAP) were doing better," she told the Irish Independent.
She added that they were "very surprised" by the results.
The study was carried out between 2006 and 2008 when the recession led to hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs.
The ESRI stressed that it only looked at a two-year timeframe but agreed that it highlighted issues going back further.
Ms Kelly said the three main failings of the scheme were: the effectiveness of the job-assistance given, the monitoring (or lack of) that took place and the sanctions (or lack of) imposed for failing to actively look for work.
The study did not include interviews with any individuals who went through the system.
Changes are being introduced later this year when FAS completes its move from under the remit of the Department of Enterprise.
Responsibility for FAS's employment services is being transferred to the Department of Social Protection and responsibility for its training arm is moving to the Department of Education.
This is in contrast to many European countries that operate a "one-stop shop" for the unemployed, which sees them signing up for social welfare and training courses in one office, with an assigned case worker.
"It (the new system) can work so long as the mechanisms involved are working effectively," Ms Kelly said.
"But in the past they weren't working. In the past, it wasn't an effective service."
The study also found that if we had an integrated system here it is unlikely there would have been as many flaws.
The Department of Social Protection, headed by Labour's Joan Burton, last night defended the results, pointing out that a new case-management system had been introduced that provided for "automatic scheduling" of appointments.
A spokeswoman said NEAP was being reformed to provide more support for the long-term unemployed.
However, the department was unable to provide details of how inspectors policed a recent change to legislation, which could result in a jobseeker's payments being cut off if he or she refused a job offer.
A spokeswoman said that availing of training and showing that CVs had been sent out were proof that an unemployed person was "genuinely seeking work".
The ESRI report also found that those who underwent FAS courses and additional training were up to 14pc more likely to find work.
"However, the cumulative effect of training plus activation interview was either zero, or at best, weakly positive, due to the negative impact associated with the NEAP referral process," the report concluded.