The Department of Social Protection (DSP) is calling the newly reconfigured contracted public employment services Intreo Partners, using the branding it has used itself since the National Employment Service previously provided by FÁS was moved into the DSP over a decade ago.
Intreo, as provided by the DSP, will work with people who are short-term unemployed, which could be up to one year. The DSP uses an unemployed person’s Probability of Exit (PEX) score to decide what level of support the person needs: the lower the score, the greater the level of engagement.
At present, the INOU understands that this will be the only part of the public employment service that people can drop into - an important support for people who are not in receipt of a Jobseeker’s payment, but who are seeking supports and advice to find a job or change their job.
Intreo Partners Local Area Employment Service
On July 14th 2022, Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD announced the outcome of the procurement for the new nationwide Intreo Partners Local Area Employment Service (IPLAES). In her press release the Minister noted that:
- all 17 preferred bidders are from the community and voluntary sector;
- an almost doubling of funding to community and voluntary employment services, from €21 million in 2021 to €39 million (€47 million inclusive of VAT);
- the State-wide expansion of employment services to those most distant from the labour market;
- if current local providers’ performance levels continue, investment across all lots will increase.
The funding line that underpinned the Local Employment Service and the Jobs Clubs has ceased, some of them are now part of the seventeen organisations / networking arrangements that were successful bidders, while others have closed or that aspect of their work is gone. Though the Minister notes that the funding has increased, it is important to note that the geographical coverage has also increased, and the funding model is different.
The new funding model is a payment by results one, and that has the potential to create a very different relationship between the service provider and the service users or customers as the DSP prefers to call people. The Department will refer people to the new Local Area Employment Service (LAES) - an option of dropping in, as people had with the previous Local Employment Services, is presently not envisaged under the new funding line.
According to the DSP, the aim of this service is to assist customers in finding sustainable full-time paid employment by providing intensive individual support and assistance. The LAES is targeted in particular at people who have been unemployed for at least twenty-four months. However, the DSP have noted that customers in receipt of other payments (Carers, Disability etc) or customers not in receipt of any DSP payment can also avail of the service.
As has been part of the Intreo model for over a decade, a Personal Progression Plan will be agreed between the service provider and the customer, and will include a schedule of activities, actions and job focused targets. Customers are referred to the LAES for a period of one (1) year and should be able to avail of other supports and training during this period. If a customer becomes employed they can avail of in-employment support for a period of seventeen weeks.
Intreo Partners National Employment Service
It is also envisaged that after one year the DSP will refer people to the first part of the contracted public employment service that they are calling Intreo Partners National Employment Service (IPNES). The service will be targeted at people who are long-term unemployed between twelve and twenty-four months.
According to the DSP, a personal advisor will be assigned to every customer who will assess the person’s skills, experience, challenges and work goals and will work with them to secure and sustain full-time paid employment. Unemployed people will be randomly selected and referred to the IPNES for a period of one year and should be able to avail of other supports and training during this period. To-date there has been no press release on the outcomes of this tendering process from the Department of Social Protection.