Podcast: €55m of support from Brussels for unemployed construction workers will in all likelihood go unspent. http://tinyurl.com/624faga A civil servant tells me that efforts to remedy the situation have been “disregarded”
“Lamentable”, and “Not moved on since the 1980’s” were two descriptions I was offered recently by two different people about the services FAS offers to the newly unemployed. Both of those people worked for FAS.
That is why the money from the European Globalisation Fund is potentially so important. Each year a half a billion Euro is put into a pot in Brussels marked EGF. Member states can apply to it for supports for those who have been made redundant as a consequence of jobs moving elsewhere in our globalised economy.
We have dipped our hands into the pot more than every other country in the EU bar one. So you would think that we would have gotten pretty efficient about how to spend it …. wouldn’t you? Not really.
We will be sending back about €10m earmarked for the Dell workers in Limerick as unspent even though only a couple of hundred have found employment. And now it is looking very much like €55m which should have been devoted to up-skilling and re-training unemployed builders and labourers will go almost entirely unspent.
The application to the EGF was made on behalf of 9000 workers whose redundancy sheets had landed in the Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment in 2009. Under the rules of the EGF the money can only be spent on the people whose names are in the application but the Department never told them they were applying on their behalf.
The department still haven’t told them and will only write to them next week, a full year and half later. Eighteen months is more than long enough to slide from recently redundant to long term unemployed to permanently unemployable.
In the course of digging around on this I had a pretty grim conversation with an official in the Department of Education (it’s training, so it’s their baby). Pat Hayden, who is a principal officer and has evidently been frustrated with the administration of the EGF for some time, told me that “Repeated efforts to have these deficiencies rectified have been disregarded.” Ouch!
Civil Servants don’t criticise governments in public. And while Fianna Fail should be stung by Mr Hayden’s comments they don’t reflect too well on the Lab/FG coalition either. Minister Ciaran Cannon says in the podcast of our Drivetime broadcast that they inherited a mess. They have been in power eight months now. Sinn Fein’s terrier like Pearse Doherty doesn’t look like he’s letting go of this issue as you’ll hear http://tinyurl.com/624faga