LETTER TO THE CLERK TO THE COMMITTEE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE
The following comments are supplied arising from your letters of 10 and 19 January 1984 regarding the question of a centralised agency for employment and training opportunities.
This Department has no function in relation to placement work since the National Manpower Service (NMS) came into operation in 1971. Prior to that employment exchanges were responsible not only for making unemployment payments but also for placing unemployed people in employment. When the NMS was established the placement role was removed from the exchanges and given to the new service which was expanded to cater for the whole range of occupations and also to promote mobility through catering for job changers. The intention was however that while the NMS would be physically separate from the employment exchanges, close contact would be maintained between the two services. There was always a need for close liaison in order to ensure that people on the Live Register could be informed and avail of opportunities for employment or training.
The policy of the NMS now is to give priority in the filling of vacancies to persons on the Live Register as opposed to e.g. job changers and this has increased the liaison between employment exchanges and the NMS. While in the past the NMS register comprised job seekers, including unemployed people who presented themselves voluntarily to the service it is hoped that eventually all persons on the Live Register will also be registered with NMS. There are administration problems in trying to do this but computerisation facilities will facilitate the development of a unified register for both services.
Liaison with NMS is also important from the viewpoint of control of unemployment benefit and assistance claims. Persons in receipt of benefit or assistance are required to take all reasonable steps to obtain suitable employment and failure to register with the NMS or refusal of a job offered by NMS would be important factors in determining whether this condition is fulfilled. Refusal to avail of any reasonable opportunity for training provided or approved by AnCO is also a factor which would give rise to disqualification for benefit. It would facilitate the effective implementation of these conditions if the NMS were to have as wide a scope as possible in bringing to the notice of unemployed people in a co-ordinated manner all the various opportunities for employment, training etc., which are available and to that extent any proposal for closer co-ordination between the agencies working in this area is to be welcomed.
23 January, 1984.