Extension needed for older CE scheme workers

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Deputy Paul Connaughton has called for a change in the employment criteria for Community Employment workers, given the dramatic change in the job situation in the country at the moment.

Deputy Connaughton said that whilst he accepted that Community Employment Programmes aim to get people back to work in their own locality, there are now new challenges facing many scheme operators who are finding it difficult to get participants for these schemes.

Deputy Connaughton said one glaring example of where the continuity of such schemes could be guaranteed, at least in the short term, was to allow older participants to continue to work in the CE Schemes right up until they qualified for a pension.

‘I am aware of several participants who are about to be let go because they have completed their quota of years in the scheme but who are now over sixty years of age. These men and women have almost no hope of further employment in the jobs market and will be consigned to drawing Jobseeker’s Allowance or other benefits until they are eligible for the Old Age Pension.

‘It would make much more sense to keep this cohort of Community Employment scheme workers on the books over the next few years and given their experience and dedication to community development work in every half parish in the country, their contribution would be much more worthwhile to the economy than being in receipt of social welfare.

‘I have taken the matter up with the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, who is responsible for Community Employment, because as the job numbers grow there will be several rural based CE schemes who will find it difficult to fill vacancies.’

Deputy Connaughton said that involvement in Community Employment Schemes and other training schemes, particularly for younger participants, is leading to worthwhile jobs as a result of the Government commitment to pay employers €7,500 to provide a job for a CE participant with one year’s experience on a scheme or a worthwhile €10,000 to the participant with two years’ experience on such a scheme.