June 19th: Research on jobless households published by the National Economic and Social Council this week illustrates the need for a targeted and sustained programme of investment in skills and social supports according to Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly, who also repeated the union’s call for an ‘Employer of Last Resort’ programme. Speaking today, Mr Kelly said that workfare schemes – such as the mandatory participation requirements in the JobBridge, Gateway and Tús programmes – fail to address the complex issues identified in the NESC report.
“A staggering 23 per cent of households are classified as jobless – which means that all members of the household are either unemployed or underemployed. The number of jobless households has grown since the onset of the economic crisis, once again illustrating that joblessness is largely a result of a lack of appropriate jobs, rather than an unwillingness to work. The latest NERI figures show that there are still 26 jobseekers for every vacancy.
“The mismatch between available jobs and the skill levels of many jobseekers is also not surprising given the heavy job losses in areas such as construction and retail.
“Blunt instruments such as workfare simply displace work paid at market rates while doing little to address the household jobless crisis”, Mr Kelly said.
“Since the onset of the crisis, Unite has consistently argued for a programme of investment in skills and upskilling, including learner-centred literacy and numeracy training, combined with an ‘Employer of Last Resort’ programme. This would see the state directly providing employment, paid at above Minimum Wage levels, coupled with training and other supports.
“Such investment can no longer be postponed. We cannot continue consigning one in every four households to the fringes of our economy and our society”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.