LETTER TO THE CLERK TO THE COMMITTEE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
I refer to your letter of 10 January regarding the question of recruitment for employment, etc.
The following material deals with issue no. (i) raised in your letter and gives some initial comments on issue no. (ii). The second issue is a complex one and its full examination would require much more detailed consideration, even from this Department’s point of view alone, than has been possible in the time available. I understand that you have written in similar terms to AnCo and the Youth Employment Agency. I believe that to facilitate the Committee it would be best to have a co-ordinated reply from the Department and its agencies and this will be done if the Committee wishes. Incidentally, I have not had the opportunity to discuss these matters with the Minister and the Minister of State though I have shown them your letter and this reply.
A. Liaison with other agencies
The National Manpower Service is the Department’s agency for recruitment and placement and is an integral part of the Department. The Service has, as a matter of policy, sought to maintain at a high level liaison and co-ordination with other State Departments and agencies. This is illustrated in the following areas:
The N.M.S. maintains a register of persons seeking employment. Following a direction from the Government, the Service is concentrating its efforts on helping the unemployed, those on the Live Register (maintained by the Department of Social Welfare) and first time job seekers. All persons under 25 years of age going on the Live Register are registered with the N.M.S. and the registration of those over 25 years of age has commenced. The intention is that the N.M.S. register will eventually cover all persons on the Live Register, first time job seekers not on the Live Register and job changers. Liaison with the Employment Exchanges of the Department of Social Welfare has been substantially developed since the Government direction referred to, involving the location of some Placement Officers of the N.M.S. in Exchanges and much closer working relationships between the two Services.
A significant amount of recruitment for AnCo training courses is undertaken by the N.M.S. This includes recruitment of AnCo sponsored apprentices and for the Community Youth Training Programme and, to an increasong extent, for courses in Training Centres and external training courses. Discussions are taking place at present between officials of both organisations with a view to extending the N.M.S. level of involvement.
3. Youth Schemes
All recruitment for schemes funded by the Youth Employment Levy is undertaken by the N.M.S. apart from those detailed at 2 on previous page.
N.M.S. activities in the Dublin area have been computerised and it is the intention to extend computerisation to other offices in the N.M.S. as soon as possible.
The Minister of State at the Department of Labour has recently also been appointed Minister of State at the Department of Education with responsibility for the co-ordination of certain activities of the educational and manpower authorities, including the activities of the manpower authorities in relation to registration and recruitment of persons for employment and retraining.
B. Centralised Agency for those Providing Employment and Training Opportunities
1. AnCo: Relationships between AnCo and N.M.S. are described briefly at 2 of Section A above.
2. Civil Service and Local Appointments Commissions: Attention is drawn to certain significant differences between the operations of the Commissions and of the N.M.S., as I see them. The Commissions hold competitions and examinations and establish orders of merit of candidates. The N.M.S. supply from their register people who are considered suitable for notified vacancies but actual choice of appointee is a matter for the employer. The Commissions clear candidates in respect of age, health, character; the N.M.S. do not. The N.M.S. operate primarily in local labour markets, though search for suitable jobs and people for jobs can be extended to other areas; the Commissions usually look for candidates nationally. The N.M.S. deals primarily with the private sector, employment and training schemes operated by public agencies and subordinate employment in Government Departments; the Commissions deal exclusively with the public sector.
3. Department of Social Welfare: As indicated above closer liaison with the Employment Exchanges of the Department of Social Welfare is being developed. When the Department of Labour was set up in 1966 the Employment Exchanges which had responsibility for unemployment payments and placement of unemployed persons were transferred to the new Department. Following a report by the Institute of Public Administration in 1968, it was decided to separate the payments and placement functions which led to the setting up of the N.M.S. and the return of the Exchanges and their payment activities to the Department of Social Welfare.
4. Department of Education: In general the N.M.S. is not involved in recruitment of students for courses run by educational institutions which have their own systems for selecting persons to undergo their courses, though participants in certain courses aided by the European Fund register with the N.M.S. The employment and and training schemes operated by such bodies as AnCo and the N.M.S. and schemes supported by the Youth Employment Agency are aimed at those who have left the educational system.
5. Recruitment to public sector generally: While the N.M.S. is prepared to assist public authorities in recruiting staff, in practice the services of the N.M.S. are mainly used for recruitment of subordinate and temporary clerical staff in Government Departments. It is our experience that State bodies generally prefer to make their own recruiting arrangements. The same is true, of course, of many private sector organisations, particularly larger ones.
I trust that the foregoing initial comments will illustrate some of the complexities of the second issue raised in your letter and will be of assistance to the Committee in the further examination of this issue. As indicated above, efforts are being made to improve co-ordination between the various manpower agencies and with other Departments concerned and information on progress in this matter can be made available to the Committee. I shall also be glad to try to provide any additional information required by the Committee.
I Ó Fionnghalaigh
23 January, 1984.