THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL Protection says that 1,500 people are being referred to compulsory JobBridge schemes that may result in a cut in their dole payment if they are not accepted.
The compulsory element of the Youth Guarantee scheme was announced by the department in February. The number of claimants required to take part was revealed by the department in a letter to the Unite trade union last week.
In March, Unite wrote to Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton arguing that the sanctions for failing for participate in the scheme are “unjustified and onerous”.
The department’s response, dated 30 April, was published today by Unite and claims that 1,500 jobseekers who have been referred to the scheme are “most in need of a more intensive activation intervention”.
This compulsory participation of the individuals in the JobBridge scheme will help to “put them decisively on the path to employment” according to the letter. It continues:
The Minister is aware that the general situation for jobseekers is difficult. The department has made extensive efforts to facilitate, to incentivise, to motivate and to activate jobseekers back to employment.
“Through this initiative, and particularly through the non-discretionary element and the application of penalty rates for non-participation, the department will incentivize and motivate that small number of jobseekers onto the path to employment.”
But the union have rejected that making JobBridge compulsory for some jobseekers is an effective way to get people back to work.
“Unite fundamentally rejects the department’s assertion that the non-discretionary element of JobBridge, and the application of penalty rates for non-participation, will “incentivise and motivate” jobseekers onto the path to employment,” argues regional secretary Jimmy Kelly.
“Quite frankly, this assertion is an insult to thousands of young people who are unable to find work at a time when the most recent figures show that there are still 26 jobseekers for every vacancy,” he adds.
The union further argues that compulsory job placement programmes displace “work paid at market wages” and will have a “negative impact on the economy and public finances”.