Question to the Minister for Social Protection (Ms. Joan Burton, TD)
To ask the Minister for Social Protection the range of retraining and re-education opportunities available to former self-employed persons to assist them in re-entering the workforce; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer
Given the scale of unemployment levels, the key objective of activation policy and labour market initiatives is to offer assistance to those most in need of support in securing work and achieving financial self-sufficiency. This policy objective prioritises scarce resources to those in receipt of qualifying welfare payments. Accordingly the employment services and schemes provided by the Department are focused in the first instance on this cohort of unemployed people. However, many services are available to the formerly self-employed who are not in receipt of a social welfare payment.
For example employment services, such as advice on job-search activities and the use of online job search tools, are available to people if they register with the Department’s employment services offices, regardless of their social welfare status. Further, unemployed persons not in receipt of payments, including the previously self-employed, may also be eligible to avail of up-skilling opportunities, for example through ETB (formerly FÁS) training for unemployed people, but are not eligible to receive a training allowance while undertaking the course. Springboard and Skillnets courses for unemployed people, funded through the Department of Education and Skills, are also open to people who were previously self-employed, regardless of their social welfare status.