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Hearing from the frontline

"Our problems are ones of both local administration and of national ambiguity in relation to an individual’s participation on a CE scheme"

An individual member wrote to us to describe their experience of working on a Community Employment (CE) scheme and the concerns they have about been “taken for granted”. 

I have been a participant on a Community Employment scheme for a number of years now and to say that I am underwhelmed would be an understatement.

The work that I and my colleagues undertake would be outdoors and it is both challenging and enjoyable.  We take great pride in the visible results. Our scheme is quite a large one with in excess of twenty participants working alternate weeks.

Our problems are ones of both local administration and of national ambiguity in relation to an individual’s participation on a CE scheme. Local administration problems relate to the types of training supplied and whether or not a real tangible transferrable skill can be achieved where the training is limited to achieving and maintaining a Safe Pass and Manual Handling certification rather than a more structured opportunity to retrain.

It must be said that whereas I have attributed these problems as local, the lack of finance directed to participants for training is one of a national allocation process by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, but the end result is a failed opportunity to encourage a genuine retraining and confidence building process for participants. The annual training budget for each CE scheme participant is a miserly €250.

Nationally, the objectives of Community Employment schemes must surely be to use the opportunity to retrain those who would otherwise be unlikely to use a formal education path for retraining. If that is not a core objective of the CE schemes, then we should conclude that we are being used as a cheap labour force with few rights and of course, in a world where illusion is the craft of politicians, many thousands of CE scheme workers have been taken off the Live Register.