Government must protect local employment services – Matt Carthy TD
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, this week joined staff from Local Employment Services and Job Clubs as they protested in Dublin against ‘dangerous’ proposals to privatise these vital employment supports. Carthy accompanied Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, who has called on Minister Heather Humphreys to urgently engage with sector representatives about the future of Local Employment Services and Job Clubs.
Deputies Carthy and Kerrane spoke with representatives from around the country including Monaghan representatives to hear their genuine concerns about current government plans.
Speaking after Monday’s protest, Teachta Carthy said:
“For 25 years Local Employment Services and Job Clubs have been providing invaluable supports to those seeking employment, particularly vulnerable groups and those returning to the workforce after longer periods of time, including Carers and Lone Parents. Following the financial crash when many workers found themselves unemployed for the first time in their lives, this services provided the assistance people needed to find new careers and training.
“The government have moved to remove the community element of these programmes and instead privatise the services. The recent Request for Tender (RfT) has put forward a commercialised, profit-driven model of employment services which not only threatens the crucial wrap-around supports these organisations currently offer, but which has also locked many existing services out of the tendering process. It is a dangerous proposition in my view.
“Concerns about the impact of these proposed changes were raised repeatedly with the government before and throughout Phase One of the tender process, which concerned seven Counties. While the deadline for applications for this phase of the tender has now passed, these concerns continue to grow as the second phase approaches. Phase Two calls for applications regarding provision of employment services in all other Counties in the State, including Monaghan.
“Shifting to an employment service model which is profit-focused, has no proven results and quite literally places quantity over quality. This approach is unacceptable and will not support sustained employment.
“The proposed changes encourage a ruthless shift to ‘services’ which focus on profit over people. This is not the person-centred approach so successfully fostered by the LES and Job Clubs.
“Sinn Féin have long campaigned against privatisation of job activation services, like the disastrous JobPath scheme, which has cost close to €300m since 2015. We remain strongly opposed to the government’s most recent move to commercialise those seeking employment.
“As the representatives I met at the protest in Dublin so eloquently put it – employment services and the people they support are not for sale!
“Unfortunately, the government has still not responded to calls to revoke the tender and to engage with those who are delivering these vital employment services.
“Their resistance tells us that they knows that the proposed changes are not welcome, and that this proposed model puts profit margins above the needs of ordinary people.
“I support the call from the Sinn Féin spokesperson in this area, Clare Kerrane, that Minister Humphreys engage with representatives working in employment services immediately to put a stop to this harmful process of privatisation. It is imperative that the Minister come to the table to hear at first hand from those who have been delivering these services so effectively for so long.”