Unemployment still on the Rise
4 Aug 2011
Yesterday the Department of Social Protection published its Project Plan for the new National Employment and Entitlement Service (NEES) which will see FÁS Employment and Community Services, the Community Welfare Service integrated into the Department. The release of the Live Register figure for July by the Central Statistics Office today highlights the extent of the challenge facing this new service.
The unadjusted figure has reached an all time high of 470,300 people, while the seasonally adjusted figure is heading back to the record figure of last autumn. 190,062 people have been on the register for more than a year and providing meaningful education and training options will be a big challenge both for the new service and for the new further education and training body SOLAS.
Given the scale of the unemployment crisis facing Ireland it is imperative that the Government are ambitious for NEES: it must strive to be a first class service that has a core principle meeting the needs of unemployed people who will be looking to it for support and guidance in a constructive manner. To deliver on such a service demands that the system is more pro-active, integrated and inter-connected. The guiding principles for this new service are a good starting point however the INOU is deeply concerned that the "social contract between the citizen claiming unemployment benefits and the State under which the citizen commits to engage with the employment advice/training referral services" envisages penalising the citizen for failing to engage but not the state for failing to deliver!
The vision outlined in the Programme for Government of an Ireland that "will be recognised as a modern, fair, socially inclusive and equal society supported by a productive and prosperous economy" will not be realised unless any social contract between the citizen and the state is really between them and both parties are clear as to what is expected of them.