IHREC Project 2021-2022
The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed received funding from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Grants 2021-2022, under the funding strand advancing social and economic rights and equality to undertake a research project entitled The impact of stigma on unemployed people exercising their socio-economic rights.
The purpose of this research project was to explore the impact of the stigma associated with unemployment on people’s ability to exercise their social and economic rights. Many people do not perceive their access to a social welfare payment as a right, even when they can access a jobseeker’s payment through their social insurance contributions. Other people experience the system as one of control, a questioning of their right to access adequate income, education, training, and employment supports.
The introduction of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment during the Covid-19 health crisis demonstrated that the State saw existing unemployment payments as inadequate to address the impact of employment loss on people. The enhanced level of support was welcome, but it also created a two tiered system of unemployment payments, with enhanced payments going to those described in public discourse as unemployed through ‘no fault of their own’. Yet, the overwhelming majority of people who are unemployed do not chose to be. Many people who are not actively seeking work want a job, but it can be hard to keep looking if previous efforts have been unsuccessful. This in turn has an impact on people’s confidence and their ability to secure decent work and address their own socio-economic exclusion.
TASC, the Think Tank for Action on Social Change undertook this research for the INOU. Eleven unemployed people were interviewed; an in-person focus group of INOU affiliated organisations took place exploring the impact of unemployment and stigma on people’s lives; the findings were presented at an online meeting, to discuss them and what the final report could usefully recommend to address the issues arising. This report will be printed and published online.
Employer Youth Employment Charter
On July 12th 2021, the Government published Pathways to Work 2021-2025 noting that “the goal of Pathways to Work 2021-2025 is to ensure that as many of these opportunities as possible are filled by people who are unemployed. This includes all unemployed, those whose jobs were lost due to COVID-19, those already on the Live Register pre-pandemic and those in society that face particular challenges in finding and sustaining employment.” (p8)
Amongst the eighty-three commitments Pathways to Work contains, there is one which states “Re-launching and promoting the Employer Youth Employment Charter with a target of signing-up 300 employers.”(Commitment 62, p74) In September, 2014 the Tánaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton launched the previous document, entitled the Employment and Youth Activation Charter.
In preparation for the new Charter, the Department of Social Protection (DSP) asked the INOU to consult with young unemployed people about what they would like to see in such a document, what would be helpful for them to find a good job. To-date four focus groups have taken place, two more are planned - three in Dublin and three outside of Dublin. The INOU are very grateful to the Connections Programme, Finglas, Dublin; Youth Work Ireland in Dundalk and Tipperary; SWAN Youth Services, down the road from us in Dublin 1 for their support in organising these Focus Groups. The DSP are also planning a survey of young social welfare recipients covering the questions discussed in the focus groups.