G4S, the British security services firm, is one of at least three privately owned companies who plan to bid next Friday for JobPath contracts that will partly outsource to the private sector getting people off social welfare and into jobs.
G4S employs 3,000 people in Ireland, and it is the country's largest security provider. The London Stock Exchange listed company has 600,000 employees worldwide and it is already active in the welfare-to-work sector in the UK.
In Britain its reputation was badly damaged when it was accused of bungling security at the London Olympic Games 2012 and internationally its staff have been embroiled in other controversies.
Other bidders planning to submit proposals for JobPath contracts are believed to include Ingeus, which is a big supplier of employment services in the UK. Ingeus was founded by Thérèse Rein, whose husband is Kevin Rudd, a former prime minister of Australia.
Maximus, a New York Stock Exchange listed specialist in privatising government services with $1 billion annual revenues is also understood to be preparing to bid. In July 2013 Maximus acquired Health Management Limited, an independent provider of occupational healthcare services in the United Kingdom, as part of its expansion into Europe.
A4E, a British welfare-to-work provider, is also rumoured to be considering a bid. It has revenues of £167 million a year and was set up to help redundant steel workers in the Sheffield area find new jobs in the 1980s.
In November 2013 Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service charged nine A4E employees with “numerous acts of fraud”, like falsifying papers to get “reward payments” from the government for jobseekers who had never attended A4E or had not found work.
Requests for tenders for four regional JobPath contracts in Ireland were issued on December 12th, 2013, and final bids are due next Friday with contracts due to be awarded in April /May. Successful tenders will then have about six months to set up their operations.
A spokesman for Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said: "JobPath is a new programme of employment activation aimed specifically at the long-term unemployed [over 12 months] and those most distant from the labour market."
He said it was "not necessarily the cast that contracts under JobPath" will go to private companies. "Many of the larger companies involved in this activity in other countries are not-for- profit organisations such as the Salvation Army and Working Links," he said.