Dáil backs proposal to end referrals to JobPath scheme

TD claims only 9% of jobs earned through programme lasted more than year

Minister for Employment Affairs Regina Doherty said some 41,000 people got full-time jobs through the JobPath programme. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Minister for Employment Affairs Regina Doherty said some 41,000 people got full-time jobs through the JobPath programme. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The Dáil has backed a proposal to end the referral of jobseekers to the Government’s jobs activation programme JobPath by 81 votes to 42.

The JobPath service, set up in 2015, targets people who have been unemployed for more than 12 months and aims to identify employment opportunities for them.

The scheme has however been repeatedly criticised by Opposition TDs and one of its main critics Sinn Féin employment affairs spokesman John Brady introduced a motion in the Dáil this week to end referrals to the scheme.

Two private companies contracted by the State are paid when a person involved in the scheme gets a job. One company Turas Nua has been paid €75.7 million while a second company Seetec has received payments totalling €73.3 million or €3,718 for every job that lasts 12 months.

The employer also receives payments for taking on someone involved in the JobPath process.

Mr Brady highlighted research presented by Waterford Institute of Technology which concluded that participants on the scheme felt “actively and capriciously patronised, cajoled, threatened, manipulated and bullied”.

He said that thousands of jobs in community employment schemes could not be filled.

The scheme has been repeatedly accused of attempting to place people in unsuitable jobs with no consideration given to factors such as area of skill, experience, or the distance they might live from the job.

Minister for Employment Affairs Regina Doherty defended the programme and said some 41,000 people got full-time jobs through JobPath and another 5,000 had part-time jobs.

But Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers said that only 9 per cent of those jobs lasted more than a year.

The Sinn Féin motion was supported by Fianna Fáil, Labour, Solidarity-People Before Profit, the Social Democrats, the Green Party and a majority of Independent TDs but opposed by Government TDs and Independent Michael Lowry.

The Government has lost more than 100 votes on Private Members’ Bills and motions since it took office in 2016 but it is not obliged to act on the decision.