JobsPlus no silver bullet but part of bigger strategy

If an employer offers a full-time job to a person who has been on the dole for two years he or she will receive €10,000

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Heather Reynolds, co-founder of Eishtec in Waterford city where JobsPlus was announced yesterday. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Heather Reynolds, co-founder of Eishtec in Waterford city where JobsPlus was announced yesterday. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Tue, Jul 9, 2013, 01:00

While the Government can claim credit for some of its initiatives and persistence on the economic front, its success in reducing the huge numbers on the dole has been less spectacular to say the least.

The Coalition has launched many initiatives since, the centrepiece being the Action Plan on Jobs, with hundreds of targets each year, some great, some box-ticking exercises.

Elsewhere, there have been three major capital spending programmes announced (to counterbalance deep cuts in capital spending announced in budgets) but the time lag between approval and actual jobs is a long time.

The big ticket items on the social protection side have been Pathways to Work and JobsBridge, the internship scheme which did have teething problems but does seem to have been a qualified success.

The unvarnished truth is that none of its high-profile jobs schemes have as yet really dented the jobless figures.

Sure, employment creation always lags behind as an economy recovers. That said, there has been improvement since last year but it has been very modest. The percentage of unemployed has fallen from 14.1 per cent to 13.7 per cent.

None of the four senior Ministers yesterday pretended that JobsPlus would be a silver bullet. Just one aspect of a “joined-up approach” that is a national endeavour, was how Eamon Gilmore put it.

The scheme is simplicity itself. If an employer offers a full-time job to a person who has been on the dole for two years he or she will receive €10,000 (and €7,500 for taking on a person who is unemployed for a year), paid in instalments over two years.

It replaces two other schemes, which gave tax breaks and PRSI exemptions, which employers said were too complicated. But when you compare the schemes it almost looks like “regifting”, at least to those of a cynical cast of mind.

The old schemes paid out more money for each take-up and did so to more employers (3,000 between 2010 and 2012 compared to the projected 2,500 for this scheme). On those figures the net improvement will be marginal, if at all.

When this was put to him, the Taoiseach said that when fully rolled out the breadth and scope of this scheme would be much larger. Time will tell.