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Here's how the government says it will get people get back to work

A rake of supports to help people get back to work after the pandemic was announced today.
Jun 1st 2021, 4:45 PM 11,666 8

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced a rake of measures aimed at getting people back to work, after a year of widespread job losses caused by the pandemic.

Unemployment in the first quarter of 2021 was 25%, and while businesses are reopening after months of lockdown, many people are still out of work.

The Economic and Social Research Institute has said that it does not expect the unemployment rate to go back to pre-pandemic rates until late 2023 at the earliest.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said today that the “jobs-led” approach would focus on retraining certain workers and creating new employment opportunities that would be carbon neutral.

The EU is giving €915 million to Ireland in funding (€181 million of which is for social and economic recovery and job creation), but this comes with strings attached: before Ireland receives the money, the draft plan has to undergo a formal assessment by the European Commission, a process expected to take two months, before being submitted to the Council of the European Union for approval.

“Helping people back into work” is a pillar of the government’s pandemic recovery package, announced today. Here are the main ways that people will be supported to return to work.

Unemployment Support

The enhanced Covid-19 illness payment will remain available, and “special arrangements” for rent supplements, including for victims of domestic abuse, will stay in place until at least the end of this year.

People who work more than 30 hours per week but have had their income reduced due to the pandemic can qualify for the supplement. Recipients must have been in their current tenancy for more than four weeks, having been in a position to pay their own rent before the pandemic.

Rent supplement for domestic abuse victims was introduced last year in response to the pandemic, enabling victims to resolve immediate housing difficulties which may not have been possible otherwise due to lockdown

If a person is diagnosed with Covid-19 or is suspected of having Covid-19 and is has to self-isolate, rent supplement can be processed and paid immediately.

The government is to reduce the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) from September – and will close it to new applicants from next month – but the wage subsidy scheme has been extended until the end of the year.

Students will stop getting PUP from 7 September, but €10 million has been made available to provide supports for the forthcoming academic year for students impacted by the pandemic.

Self-employed sole traders who are coming off PUP and returning to work will be able to avail of a €1,000 Enterprise Support Grant to cover some re-start costs.

Upskilling

A new “Pathways to Work” scheme has been launched, which aims to help people return to employment through reskilling or upskilling. The scheme will also engage with employers, focusing particularly on youth unemployment, and young people who are at risk of being out of work long-term.

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A previous Pathways to Work scheme, which was in force from 2012 to 2015 was described as aiming to “ensure that as many jobs as possible go to people on the Live Register”.

The announcement also said that a new Government Youth Employment Charter will see “intense” engagement with young jobseekers, but did not expand on what intense engagement would look like. An “expanded” Jobs Plus scheme, with 8,000 places, will “continue to provide a higher incentive for the recruitment of young unemployed people”.

An additional 50,000 education and training places will be rolled out to enable people to upskill or reskill. Alongside the new places, the €181 million in funding will be given to the Technological Universities Transformation Fund, SOLAS’s Recovery Skills Response Programme, and a new Work Placement Experience Programme.

The government has said that “a further education model centred on apprenticeships, transferable skills and lifelong learning is required to keep pace with future change”. Ireland’s Skills Framework will be “reinvigorated” to ensure that upskilling and reskilling initiatives are “routed in the digital and green transition”, as well as in other growing areas.

The government also reiterated its commitment to the Action Plan for Apprenticeships, launched in April, which aims increase the number of new apprentice registrations to 10,000 per year by 2025.

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Emer Moreau

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