The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) representing Ireland’s 49 Local Development Companies (LDCs) has called on Oireachtas members “to ensure that the future of community-based Local Employment Services are protected and developed”.
The network urged the Government to consider the rollout of a Local Development Company-led employment services model as part of its response to the unemployment crisis arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
It rejected the idea of for-profit companies replacing the Local Employment Services.
“Cost-per-unit models do not serve jobseekers well,” said ILDN manager Joe Saunders. “There is no upside in cost, governance or service levels with such a model.”
Mr Saunders said, “Our members are concerned regarding proposed changes to the inclusive, community-based, not-for-profit model of public employment services in Ireland currently operated by Local Employment Services. Thus, we have provided government with an offer to provide additional community-based services nationally that will be open to all jobseekers including those who don’t currently qualify for welfare payments.”
Local Development Companies have 25 years operational experience in preparing jobseekers for work and are familiar with the multiple barriers facing long-term unemployed people. “Employment Services must be part of the integrated provision of social and personal service as part of a non-profit based public employment service,” he said.
Mr Saunders added: “Employment services are best located in community settings, operated by providers who can tailor to local circumstances, building relations with local employers. LDCs have a key strength in providing holistic wraparound services for individuals, families and communities.”
The Department of Social Protection provides a nationwide Public Employment Service. It is delivered either by the Department’s own Intreo service, or by community-based, not-for-profit companies operating the Local Employment Service (LES) and Jobs Clubs, or by private contractors.