New Galway city councillor Michelle Murphy has said that more solutions are needed to get the long-term unemployed back to work despite the recent drop in the Live Register.
Cllr Murphy said the latest Live Register figures are a positive start to the New Year for the jobs market and show that the number of people on the Live Register has dropped for the 18th month in a row, bringing them to their lowest level for four and a half years.
”There is certainly a positive trend showing and the fact that 58,000 more people joined the workforce over the last 12 months and this is a welcome boost to the overall national jobs figures but we must build on this progress in the year aheadm” she said.
“I am pleased to see that there has been a drop in the number of people who are long-term unemployed [12 months or over] but I believe we need to make further progress on this area in particular. The Jobs Plus Initiative, under which the Government covers a quarter of what it costs to hire someone who has been on the Live Register for more than 12 months, is certainly helping to make a dent in the problem but this momentum has to be carried further to make a bigger statement about the success of these initiatives and must partner with other solutions to make a full impact’.
”We must also continue to hone the ‘Pathways to Work’ programme to ensure every possible support is being provided to help people get back to work.”
Certainly the up-skilling offering for the long term unemployed is a welcome solution but Cllr Murphy believes that employers need to be encouraged to create real part-time jobs for those who are long-term unemployed to get them gradually back into the working environment.
“In many cases those out of work for over 12 months may need encouragement and guidance to boost their confidence to get back out there in the market place and start the job search process – the availability of more part-time employment opportunities may be more attractive to those seeking to commence their movement onto the jobs ladder again.
”Part-time working arrangements would give potential employees the opportunity to work the hours to earn equivalent of their social welfare payment and provide a small top up on same so they are being paid for the actual hours they work remunerated through their social welfare payments and giving flexibility where needed for greater work life balance where people need to be available for other family commitments.
”Obviously if there is an opportunity to move on to a full time working arrangement within the company or organisation then the employee has an opportunity to put themselves forward for same and then are taken off the social welfare benefit. An increase in substantial part-time working arrangements would benefit local businesses and services encouraging spending locally and it would benefit overall economic recovery in the long-term.”