Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has today launched proposals to protect the not-for-profit, community based model of the Local Employment Services (LES) and Job Clubs while calling for the current tender launched to dismantle this be revoked.
In response to the government’s recent Request for Tender (RFT) for employment services, the policy paper, ‘Job Activation: Protecting the Not-For-Profit Model’, calls for the scaling up of the current community-based and people focused services.
Speaking at the launch today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“We are launching this proposal in response to the government’s shocking decision to continue with the tender for a new model of employment services, despite significant concerns.
“These concerns and the consequences of the proposed changes to Local Employment Services and Job Clubs have been raised with the Minister for Social Protection time and time again.
“The new model encourages a ruthless shift to ‘services’ which focus on profit over people. This is not the person-centred approach so successfully fostered by the LES and Job Clubs, and will only result in a process of commercialisation which leaves those who need these services behind.
“Sinn Féin have long campaigned against privatisation of job activation services, like the disastrous JobPath scheme, which has cost close to €300m since 2015. We remain strongly opposed to the government’s most recent move to commercialise those seeking employment.
“Fine Gael appear to be trying to introduce another for-profit model, which would put profit margins above the needs of ordinary people. This could push people into unsuitable, short-term positions just to tick a box. It also risks pricing out LES and Job Clubs which have a strong community approach and walk-in options which meet communities’ needs.
“Today we are calling on the Minister to revoke the tender to avoid the hollowing out of these crucial local job activation services.
“Instead we are proposing the scaling up of existing employment services, to ensure areas which do not currently have LES or Job Clubs can avail of these high-quality services.
“We want to ensure the availability of employment services for all, and the continuation of community-based wrap-around supports. Anyone in the job market should have access to walk-in services to assist them with finding sustainable employment.
“By integrating Job Clubs into the current model of LES, these important supports can be continued in the locations they currently operate in whilst maintaining affordability and complementing the work of the LES.
“We know that existing models of employment services like the LES and Job Clubs work. People who have lost their jobs deserve support as they try to get back into the workforce again. The state has a responsibility to put support in place, which meets jobseekers’ needs and gives them the best chance of returning to work
“Shifting to an employment service model which is profit-focused, has no proven results and quite literally places quantity over quality, is unacceptable and will not support sustained employment in the State.
“More than ever as we emerge from Covid-19, we need employment services which are fit to help people and give them the support they need to return to work. Privatisation of these services by Fine Gael must be resisted.
“The Minister must revoke the current tender immediately and ensure the protection of quality employment services for all.”