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Burton under fire over 'farcical' jobs plan wait

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 Joan Burton. Photo: Tom Burke

Joan Burton. Photo: Tom Burke

Joan Burton. Photo: Tom Burke

JOAN Burton has been heavily criticised after it emerged that tens of thousands of jobseekers will have to wait until the end of the year before they are assisted in finding work.

The Social Protection Minister has been accused of acting too slowly in dealing with the massive list of dole claimants scheduled to be interviewed as part of the Jobpath scheme.

The initiative is designed to get up to 100,000 people off the live register and into employment and other opportunities this year alone.

Unemployed people who take part in the scheme are assisted in their bid to find a job, by receiving advice in areas such as team building and CV preparation.

However, the scheme hit a snag last year because of a major shortage of welfare officials required to process the large number of interviewees.

The government has now been forced to draft in external companies in order to process the waiting list and contracts have been put out for tender.

However, a spokeswoman for Ms Burton told the Herald that the companies will not be in place until October.

WAITING

Fianna Fáil's Social Protection spokesperson, Willie O'Dea, described the estimate as "farcical".

"Here we have tens of thousands of people waiting to take part in this scheme. And yet, we're being told that the firms won't begin interviews until the end of the year," he told the Herald.

"This is farcical. It confirms the level of commitment this government is showing to getting this scheme off the ground. Will the firms really be in place by the end of the year or will it take even longer?"

However, a spokeswoman for Ms Burton insisted the scheme is crucial in getting people back to work.

"JobPath is a new programme of employment activation aimed specifically at long-term unemployed people (over 12 months) and those most distant from the labour market," her spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman added that the Department wishes to complement existing resources by procuring additional contract capacity from providers with expertise in the provision of employment support.

noconnor@herald.ie


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