Committee Reports::Report - Proposal to Establish a Centralised State Agency for Persons Registering for Employment or Training::31 May, 1984::Report



1.1 The Committee in its First Report (P1 2036) “Recruitment by the Civil Service Commission and the Local Appointments Commission” recommended, inter alia, that

“the functions of the Commissions vis-a-vis the National Manpower Service should be examined critically with a view to greater cost-effectiveness in public service recruitment generally” (Par. 8.6).

1.2 At its meeting on 21 December 1983, the Committee agreed on the need for rationalisation of the various State agencies which register job seekers or train people for employment. It was felt that there appeared to be a case for a centralised agency which would provide a single point of contact for users and which would make the existing agencies cost effective at a time financial resources were so constrained. An important side effect of such a development would be the reduction or elimination of abuses of existing schemes e.g. persons fraudulently in receipt of social welfare payments while actually working.

1.3 The Committee decided initially to seek comments from the relevant Departments and agencies involved (appendices 1 to 5) and subsequently decided to invite representatives of those bodies to appear before the Committee to establish where liaison/co-ordination existed and to identify possible areas of overlap or duplication of their activities. Letters issued to

(i)the Civil Service Commission

(ii)the Department of Education

(iii)the Department of Labour

(iv)the Department of Social Welfare

(v)An Comhairle Oiliúna

(vi)the Youth Employment Agency and

(vii) the Irish Vocational Education Association

1.4 Meetings with representatives of the agencies involved were held on 14 February, 21 February, 6 March and 13 March 1984.

1.5 The Committee welcomed the opportunity to hear at first hand how the various Departments and State agencies involved in employment and training programmes operated their schemes. However, from the evidence heard and the background information supplied to the Committee it was clear that there are fairly major areas of overlap in functions and policies and a certain lack of clarity of role definition which must be a cause for concern. From the users’ viewpoint, whether employer, employee or job seeker the present system presents a confusing array of schemes, offices and procedures which must be an inhibiting factor in achieving the objectives for which the schemes were originally intended.

This report sets out to describe the present situation, the views of the Committee on the evidence heard and the Committee’s recommendations on action which needs to be taken to rationalise existing services. Sections 2 to 5 below represent essentially the views of the Departments and agencies on their respective roles. The Committee does not necessarily agree that they fully reflect the position that emerged during the hearing of evidence on the subject of this inquiry.



The Civil Service Commission’s main work is the recruitment of a wide range of staff for the Civil Service. It also carries out recruitment functions for the newly created Telecom Éireann and An Post and for the Garda Siochána. In addition the Civil Service Commission administers many tests for serving Civil Servants and conducts internal promotion competitions.

The Local Appointments Commission, which shares staff and premises with the CSC, deals with the selection and recommendation of persons for appointment to professional, technical and senior management posts under local authorities, health boards, harbour authorities etc.


In accordance with its statutory obligations under the terms of the 1930 Vocational Education Act the Department of Education funds a range of vocational education and training programmes to prepare young people for employment in trades, manufacture, agriculture and commerce.

2.2.2The Department of Education’s existing specific programme activities in the provision of such training can be summarised as following:-

(a) Programmes for 15-18 year olds

Pre-Employment programmes are operated in 2nd level schools and are intended for students who ordinarily leave school to seek employment on obtaining school-leaving age but fail to obtain such employment and return to school. The Programmes comprise three principal elements:-

-general studies and Personal and Social Development

-Work Experience

-Technical Studies

A broad range of pre-employment/secretarial courses which prepare students for employment in the Commercial and Services sector is also provided in the second-level schools.

In the 1982/83 academic year a total of over 11,000 students participated in these courses.

A number of experimental programmes were also operated by the Department in 1982/ 83 catering for over 600 students in Transition Year and Community Based Learning Programmes.

(b) Specialist Training Programmes with other Agencies

The Department of Education provides an educational component for the following programmes

(i)Apprenticeship training for trade and industry in conjunction with AnCO - Industrial Training Authority

(ii)Craft and Management training for the Hotel, Catering and Tourism Industries in conjunction with CERT

(iii)Training for disadvantaged groups e.g. Travelling People in conjunction with AnCO

(c) Technician Training Programme

A full range of courses for technicians and higher technicians is provided in Regional Technical Colleges and Colleges of Technology. The principal function of these Colleges is to train for trade and industry over a broad spectrum of occupations ranging from craft to professional level notably in engineering and services. A specialist programme for middle-level technicians operates in the Regional Technical Colleges with funding from the European Social Fund. Approximately, 4000 trainees participated in this programme in 1982/83. There were over 15,000 whole-time students in attendance at these Colleges in 1982/83.

2.2.3It should be noted that this outline of the vocational training activities funded by the Department of Education has been confined to specific programmes operated in Vocational Schools, Community and Comprehensive Schools and the range of programmes conducted in the Regional Technical Colleges and Colleges of Technology. In addition to these programmes, the Department has responsibilities for and funds Teacher-Training Colleges (specialist and non-specialist), National Institutes of Higher Education and Universities all of which also make significant contributions to meeting the manpower requirements of the country.

2.2.4Liaison with other Agencies

The Department of Education through the Vocational Education Committees Contributes to a number of training programmes as already indicated above. In addition close co-operation is maintained with the National Manpower Service at national and local level in connection with recruitment to a number of the training programmes already outlined above, particularly, the E.S.F. aided Middle-level Technician programme. However, as is indicated in the Programme for Action in Education 1984/87 (paragraph 5.23) it is recognised that there is a need for a re-appraisal of the programmes of vocational training administered by AnCO, the Y.E.A. and the Department of Education. There have been instances of over-lapping and lack of co-ordination in relation to course provision and it is clear that there is a need to provide adequate structures for co-ordination of activity in this area which recognises the statutory role of the agencies concerned and ensures that there is an avoidance of unnecessary duplication of scarce resources.


2.3.1 Background

The National Manpower Service (NMS) has its origins in a report on the public employment service prepared by the Institute of Public Administration in 1968. At that time, the Department of Labour was responsible for the employment exchanges. The IPA study found that the public perception of the exchanges as principally benefit paying institutions limited their effectiveness in placement. To meet the objective of developing an efficient placement service would require the establishment of a new organisation which “must be administratively divorced from and accepted by the public as separate from the existing system of employment exchanges”. The report recommended that the new placement service should remain integrated with the Department of Labour, and be organised on a regional basis.

A Government decision to establish the NMS was taken in 1969, and the Service became fully operational in September, 1971.

2.3.2 Structure

The Service is organised on a regional basis in accordance with the planning regions except in the case of Co. Donegal which is not regarded as a separate region for NMS purposes but is included in the North West region. Each region operates under the control of a Regional Director who reports to a National Director located at Headquarters in the Department of Labour.

2.3.3 Staffing

Each region is staffed with specially trained Placement Officers, Occupational Guidance Officers and appropriate back-up clerical staff.

2.3.4 Functions

The functions of the National Manpower Service are the provision of an effective placement and guidance service and the collection and dissemination of manpower information.

Insofar as the provision of an effective placement service is concerned, the Government has directed that the National Manpower Service should concentrate on the unemployed.

The Service is involved in the promotion/administration of employment schemes such as the Employment Incentive Scheme, the Enterprise Allowance Scheme, the Work Experience Programme and the Grant Scheme for Youth Employment.

The Service is also involved in the selection of apprenticeship trainees for AnCO and Bord na Móna and of trainees for some of AnCO’s other training courses and for other Youth Levy funded programmes, see paragraph 2.3.7.

2.3.5 Location of Offices

The Service has a network of 45 permanent offices located throughout the country. There are 8 Regional Offices located in Athlone, Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford. In addition each region has a number of permanent local offices. Clinics are operated as circumstances demand in towns which do not have permanent offices and there are about 60 in operation at present.

2.3.6 Performance in 1983

The following is a summary of the activity of the National Manpower Service in 1983.


No. of job seekers registered




No. of job seekers on register at end year




No. of vacancies notified




No. of vacancies filled




No. of participants in Work Experience Programmes




No. recruited for other youth schemes




No. Placed on AnCO Training Courses



2.3.7. Liaison with other Agencies

(a) Employment Exchanges/Offices

Liaison between the National Manpower Service and the Employment Exchanges/Offices of the Department of Social Welfare has been considerably strengthened in line with Government policy in an effort to find jobs for the unemployed and to curb abuses of the Social Welfare system.

The Department of Social Welfare are informed by the NMS of people on the Live Register who refuse offers of work/training/work experience or who do not turn up for an interview with a Placement Officer or an employer. In 1983, approx. 10,400 persons were thus reported to the Department of Social Welfare.

The National Manpower Service gives priority to those on the Live Register when submitting people for vacancies notified to the Service, in fact the employed will only be considered for a job when there is no suitable unemployed person available. In 1983, the NMS placed in employment about 10,500 people from the Live Register.

As a first step towards registering for employment all those in receipt of unemployment payments, arrangements have been made with the Department of Social Welfare to notify the Manpower Service of all those under 25 years who are on the Live Register.

However, a complete take over of the Live Register is a mammoth task in view of the high levels of registered unemployed and the movements on and off the Register (approx. 30,000 per month).

(b) Liaison with the Youth Employment Agency

The establishment of the Youth Employment Agency in 1982 has had significant implications for the NMS. The Agency sees the Manpower Service as having a central role in determining demand for opportunities and in allocating the available places on a priority basis as agreed by the Agency with the sponsoring organisations. The NMS is now involved in selecting young persons for practically all schemes/ training funded from the Youth Levy and to this end the NMS has compiled a register of unemployed persons under 25 years.

(c) Liaison with AnCO

The NMS selects participants for the external training courses organised by AnCO and is involved in the selection of persons for AnCO first year off-the-job apprenticeship training courses. Discussions are currently under way with a view to involving the NMS in the selection of all trainees in AnCO in-centre training.


2.4.1The Department of Social Welfare does not have any direct function in relation to placement or training. Prior to the establishment of the National Manpower Service the placement function was carried out by the Employment Exchanges in addition to the payment of unemployed benefit and assistance. On the establishment of the National Manpower Service, however, the placement function was removed from the Exchange and given to the new service. There has always been a need for close liaison between the Exchanges and the National Manpower Service in order to ensure that people on the Live Register are given every opportunity to secure suitable employment. Furthermore, persons in receipt of unemployment payments are required to be available for employment and the exchange of information between the Employment Exchanges and the National Manpower Service is one of the methods used to verify that this condition is fulfilled in individual cases.

2.4.2There are 44 Employment Exchanges, 2 Control Offices and 81 Employment Offices throughout the country operating under the Department of Social Welfare. These offices accept claims for and pay unemployment benefit to those on the Live Register (currently about 215,000) and to other claimants, who are not shown on the Live Register (currently about 26,000). The Employment Exchanges and Control Offices are staffed by over 12,000 civil servants and the Employment Offices are run by Branch Managers who operate on an Agency basis and provide their own staff and premises.


2.5.1AnCO was established under the 1967 Industrial Training Act to make better provision for industrial and commercial training. The Act sets out the general functions of AnCO as:-

(i) to provide for the training of persons for the purposes of any activity of industry, and

(ii) to promote, facilitate, encourage, assist, co-ordinate and develop the provision of such training by such means as AnCO considers necessary or desirable.

Activity of industry includes any activity of commerce or industry, or of a trade or occupation.

2.5.2Through the structure of its Council and seven sectoral industrial training committees representative as they are of trade unions, employers, educational, and other special interests including National Manpower Services and with its everyday presence in Irish Industry, AnCO is ideally positioned to carry out these functions and by doing it assists individuals to secure satisfying and satisfactory employment and business to be more successful.

Specifically AnCO aims to ensure:-

-that the Irish workforce at all levels of skill will be trained to the highest international standards and be fully competitive with comparable workers in other countries

-that all persons with the will and capacity to do so can improve their standards of skill so as to increase their earning power and derive greater job satisfaction.

2.5.3In pursuance of these objectives AnCO offers two broad services.

(a) Through its eighteen strategically placed Training Centre network and its External Training Division AnCO offers a wide range of practical skill courses for unemployed and redundant persons.

These courses cover a broad spectrum of industrial and commercial skills including computer based high technology subjects and enterprise development programmes and, in 1983, alone over 34,000 people were trained in these areas.

Training Centre and External Training Divisions conduct regular meetings with the National Manpower Service and the Youth Employment Agency on a consultative basis.

In addition, as AnCO has been given national responsibility for apprenticeship training, it provides first year off-the-job training for apprentices.

In carrying out all of this training AnCO uniquely simulates industrial and commercial conditions.

(b) AnCO promotes training within existing industry through its Training Advisory Services, which includes the provision of Technical Assistance Grants and Levy Grants. This Division assists industry to assess, implement, validate and monitor training and training needs.

2.5.4The Advisory Services in 1983 made 21,720 training visits to over 5,200 firms in the Engineering, Construction, Printing and Paper, Textiles, Clothing and Footwear, Chemical and Allied Products and Food, Drink and Tobacco Industries. In addition through the new and domestic industry training grant programmes the training advisory services provides a training consultancy service to the I.D.A., SFADCO and on request to Údarás na Gaeltachta in assisting new, domestic and small firms to draw up detailed training plans.

Furthermore, when firms find themselves in financial difficulty AnCO, in conjunction with Fóir Teo and the I.D.A., may assist from a training viewpoint in a rescue package.


2.6.1The Youth Employment Agency is a company set up by the Government under the Youth Employment Agency Act, 1981. Its task is to provide for the training and employment of young people - those over 15 and under 25 years of age

2.6.2The Agency’s areas of concern include:

-The provision of training and work experience

-Job creation through the development of enterprise and a commitment to self-help among the young.

-The preparation of young people for working life within the educational system.

2.6.3The Agency’s Board of Directors is appointed by the Minister for Labour and is representative of Employer, Trades Union, Youth and Government interests.

The Role of the Youth Employment Agency

2.6.4The Youth Employment Agency is, primarily, an instrument of manpower policy. It differs from other state agencies in the manpower area, however, in that:

-it is unique in having an integrated range of responsibilities across all of the services required to give effect to manpower policies for those between 14 and 25;

-it has, in respect of its particular target group, been given responsibility for coordinating the activities of those agencies already delivering services to them;

-its mandate, extending from the educational system through to job creation, is more comprehensive than that which has traditionally been seen as being within the scope of manpower policy in Ireland;

-it has a source of income available to it on the basis of which to plan its activities on a longer term basis.

2.6.5Under its Memorandum of Association the Agency:

-has overall national responsibility under the Minister for Labour “for the furtherance of the employment of young persons”;

-it is empowered to “submit views. . . .on educational policy and its effectiveness in preparing young persons for working life”;

-must not only integrate and coordinate existing training and employment programmes but provide for their extension;

-must have special concern for access by the disadvantaged to training and employment programmes;

-is required to encourage enterprise and self-help among young people;

-should assist voluntary and community organisations in the provision of jobs;

-has been given a wide range of powers of financial and other forms of intervention to accomplish these tasks.

2.6.6There is virtually no area critical to the overall objectives of the Agency where institutions with whom it can cooperate do not already exist and, in some cases, the programmes are already in place through which the objectives of the Agency can be achieved. It is important, therefore, that the Agency should provide a coherent set of objectives and principles on which it and other institutions can plan and implement their activities.

2.6.7The Agency must, at an operational level, ensure that effective links exist between the training and employment services for young people so as to create a framework within which each person can establish a foothold in the labour market.

The Agency, however, also has a mandate to go beyond the state sector agencies and to encourage actively initiatives in the community generally aimed at the education, training and employment of young people. These are important means of establishing a better understanding of the issues and a more efficient delivery of services(a).


2.7.1The IVEA, founded in 1902, is the representative body for Vocational Education Committees in Ireland. The objective of the Association is to promote the development of continuation and technical education and to facilitate action among governing bodies. VECs have statutory responsibility for the provision of technical and continuation education and training. There are 38 VECs providing ordinary second leve courses, secretarial courses, third level courses to certificate, diploma and degree levels and they are the primary providers of adult education in Ireland. VECs provide grants and scholarships. They also aid in special education programmes, curriculum development and are represented on the boards of management and teacher selection boards of community schools.


3.1 A summary of the public expenditure involved in the administration and activities related to the area of the Committee’s review is set out below (detailed breakdown in appendices 6 to 12).


£ million





Civil Service Commission and Local Appointments Commission




Department of Education

3rd level 56.291






Department of Labour




Department of Social Welfare








Youth Employment Agency






4.1 An OECD examination which took place in 1982 (published this year) commented adversely on aspects of the services provided by Ireland’s state agencies in the area of employment and training for young people. “The review team members were struck by the lack of suitable and up-to-date data upon which to make a calculated judgement about youth employment” (P. 23 of that Report).

4.2 The report specifically referred to the problems of undereducated and disadvantaged young people (P. 49) and this aspect has been highlighted in the Committee’s report.

4.3 Chapter V of the OECD report dealt with “The Education and Training Systems: Conflicts Between The Needs of the Disadvantaged and the Pursuit of Industrialisation The examiners were critical of the inadequate preparation of Ireland’s school-leavers for working life and the fact that many career teachers were unfamiliar with industry. There should be a greater involvement of the National Manpower Service in careers guidance in the schools and a major extension of the school/ industry links programme.

4.4 The OECD report, while generally supportive of AnCO’s role, found that there were some tensions between the education system and the training system (as in other OECD countries also). There was need for much closer collaboration between the two systems (P. 65). The report concluded that AnCO itself should be subject to a system of external assessment. (P. 82). Chapter VI of the OECD report was critical of the National Manpower Service and referred to the number of different agencies involved in the different job creation programmes and the lack of co-ordination between them. The report saw some danger in the lack of automatic cross-registration between the NMS and the “Live Register” of persons entitled to unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance.

The report concluded that the integrated implementation of existing schemes through NMS regional offices reporting to the YEA would best achieve the desired goals of the different programmes. Chapter VI is reproduced in full in Appendix 16 of this report. P.51


5.1 The ESRI in the recent publication “Employment and Unemployment Policy for Ireland”(a) referred to the need for an evaluation of the National Manpower Services. The report stated that “there is an urgent need for central co-ordination of all the agencies operating in the sphere because, currently, responsibility is fragmented, accountability is difficult to enforce, inter-agency friction occurs and agencies are left to form policy which is properly the prerogative of Government Ministers and their departments.” The report further stated that co-ordination at inter departmental level is also of major importance, particularly as the dividing line between where education ends and training begins is becoming increasingly blurred (p. 295). This section of the ESRI report is reproduced in Appendix 17. P.6


6.1 While the Committee did not specifically examine the activities of CERT Ltd. in the context of this review it is relevant to note that it is the national body responsible for co-ordinating the education, recruitment and training of personnel for the hotel, catering and tourism industry with priority for the needs of the tourism sector (see Appendix 13).

6.2 To the extent that CERT is another training agency funded by the Exchequer and the European Social Fund and liaises with the Youth Employment Agency the Committee would be concerned to ensure that co-ordination of CERT’s activities with the YEA should be as effective as possible.

6.3 The Committee wishes also to ensure that other State agencies providing employment/training should be evaluated objectively on a regular basis, namely, An Comhairle Oiliúna Talmhaíochta (ACOT), the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and Shannon Free Airport Development Company (SFADCo).


7.1 The Committee was concerned to note the evidence of overlap and duplication in the services provided for training, recruitment and job creation. What was particularly disturbing was that, to date, no serious efforts had been made to rationalise these services or to adapt them to the needs of the users who, in many cases, are the most vulnerable members of society in Ireland. This aspect was unacceptable and could not be justified, especially given the heavy demands on the Exchequer in other areas.

7.2 The Committee noted the following areas where there is overlap and urgent need for rationalisation

(1)Unemployed persons are registered with the Department of Social Welfare. All those under 25 years of age are automatically referred to the Department of Labour’s National Manpower Service while those over 25 are advised to register with the N.M.S. This requires the manual compilation of two separate registers and separate interviews.

(2)An Comhairle Oiliúna (AnCO) recruits people for training and employment while the N.M.S. also selects people for employment.

(3)AnCO organises pre-training courses while the Department of Education, through the Vocational Education Committees, organises pre-employment courses. Both bodies issue certificates to successful applicants and this may be a source of confusion for employers and dilute the value of such certificates.

(4)There is a lack of clarity as to demarcation between the Department of Labour and the Youth Employment Agency, particularly in regard to policy on the Youth Employment Levy.

(5)The role and functions of the National Manpower Service have not been re-assessed in the light of changed economic circumstances since the establishment of the N.M.S in 1970s, at a time when there were expectations of full employment.

(6)There is a lack of co-ordination between the Civil Service Commission and the other agencies concerned with training/recruitment of young people.

7.3 The Committee felt that the Department of Labour (which has overall responsibility for manpower/training policy), in consultation with the Department of Education, should have been undertaking regular reviews of the services in question with a view to rationalising programmes and eliminating duplication. The Department of the Public Service, which deals with structures and reform in the public service, must bear some responsibility for not monitoring developments to date and taking action to eliminate areas of duplication and overlap between the Departments and agencies involved. The Committee is glad to note that the Minister of State at the Department of Labour and the Department of Education is now assessing the situation and looks forward to an early improvement in this area

Department of Social Welfare

7.4 The Committee was informed that there are about 30,000 movements on and off the Live/Register each month. The Department of Social Welfare notifies the National Manpower Service in the case of all those on the Live Register who are under 25. Those under 25 years of age are advised to register with the N.M.S. About 60 per cent of the latter do so. Where persons refuse offers of employment the N.M.S. notifies the Department of Social Welfare and unemployment payments may be disallowed as a result. (Q 116 - 126).(a) In 1982 2200 reports were made which resulted in 350 people being disallowed or ceased signing - this involved savings of £300,000 approximately. In 1983 about 10,400 were reported.

7.5 The question of abuse of the Social Welfare system by persons who are actually working is a cause of concern to the Committee. The Committee notes that in 1983, 1296 cases were detected on unemployment benefit, involving £145,000 and 464 cases on unemployment assistance involving £114,000. (Q.139/140)(b)

7.6 The Committee is of the opinion

(i)that a rapid change to a computerised system compatible with the National Manpower Service would lead to a more effective link between the two Departments and

(ii)that/detection rates of abuse of the Social Welfare system would improve as a result.

Department of Education

7.7 The Committee was informed that the appointment of Mr George Birmingham T.D., as Minister of State at the Department of Education and the Department of Labour was designed to co-ordinate services and eliminate duplication between the various agencies. The Irish/Vocational Education Association expressed concern at the level of duplication and held the view that the education system was the appropriate source for the provision of essential programmes at present being undertaken by other agencies, particularly in the 15 - 18 years age group (Q. 68 - 71).

7.8 It was noted that the Vocational Education Committees provide courses for 10,000 people each year - basically vocational skills type programmes and that the Department of Education was satisfied that it could expand the number of such courses. The Vocational Education Act, 1930, gives the VECs specific statutory responsibility for training in those areas (Q. 71).

7.9 The Committee recognises the importance of Vocational Education in providing people with both the academic and vocational skills necessary for employment In particular, the Committee welcomes the ability of the VECs to respond to technical and technological change through the Regional Technical Colleges and the Colleges of Technology. The other third level institutions, including the National Institutes of Higher Education, also play an important role in training for employment. The Committee would hope that close liaison between the institutions would avoid overlap of courses leading to a waste of scarce resources.

7.10 The Committee’s opinion was that the Vocational Education sector, because of what amounted to keen competition from AnCO and the Youth Employment Agency, had lost ground in recent years in fulfilling its role as effectively as it might. This was found to be partly due to the high level of funding of those two agencies but also to some extent because of their dynamism and the fact that they have been concentrating on particular client groups - the Vocational Education Committees deal with a very wide range of activities at second and third level as well as adult education. The Irish Vocational Education Association, in consultation with the Department of Education, should, therefore, re-assess the range of vocational education courses to see to what extent priority could be given to courses more directly related to employment opportunities.

7.11 The Committee noted with concern that up to 25 per cent of school leavers were low achievers, who were at a severe disadvantage in the job market at a time of high unemployment. Questions were raised about the relevance of much of the education structures and curriculum to to-day’s school leavers and the Committee was of the view that, apart from co-ordination or streamlining of services, there were implications for the curriculum and examinations system. This aspect is covered at par.9.9 of the Committee’s recommendations. (Q. 80).

7.12 It was clear that some of the Youth Employment Agency-funded activities - community training workshops - are an example of the sort of education need in a pre-training phase which at the moment is being handled by the Department of Labour/AnCO rather than the education system. (Q. 80).

An Comhairle Oiliúna (AnCO)

7.13 The Committee was informed that AnCO has grown in throughput by over 55 per cent since 1980 while in the same period AnCO staff had grown by 17 per cent. The 1984 budget is about £99.5 million of which about £55 million would come from the European Social Fund. (Q. 33).

7.14 It was agreed by the Dept. of Education, AnCO and the Irish Vocational Education Association that there are areas of duplication vis-a-vis the activities of other agencies.

(Q 64 - 68).

7.15 There was evidence that there was not a good structured interface between AnCO and the education system generally (Q 75 - 77). The Committee was concerned to ensure that this situation should be improved at an early date and that duplication which exists should be eliminated. (Q 76 - 89). It was suggested that the fact that AnCO could react more quickly than the education system had been one of the causes of AnCO assuming responsibility for aspects of the education in recent years.

7.16 The Committee felt that a clear distinction should be made between (a) industrial type training and (b) remedial type training for disadvantaged groups. It would be preferable for the NMS rather than AnCO to refer people for remedial type training and subsequent employment. It was also important to monitor subsequent progress of trainees to oversee the success rate of the training programme (Q. 51 and Q. 95/96) preferably by an outside agency such as the YE

7.17 In general, AnCO should not recruit people directly for their courses as there would be a tendency for AnCO to select the best applicants to the exclusion of others on the Live Register (Q. 51).

National Manpower Service

7.18 The Committee found that the Department of Labour’s National Manpower Service, which was set up at a time when there were expectations of full employment, had not kept apace with developments or needs which have arisen during a period of high unemployment. These issues were high-lighted in the OECD report and the ESRI reports referred to at paragraphs 4-5 above.

7.19 Apart from not keeping abreast of the clear need for change the Department of Labour should have assumed a dominant role in the area of co-ordination of services available to the labour market. This lack of a coherent overall plan has, in the Committee’s opinion led to the confusion, fragmentation and duplication of services that are now patently less effective than they would be if monitored, evaluated and rationalised on a regular basis.

7.20 It was accepted by the Department of Labour that there is duplication and a need for closer co-operation than has existed up to now (Q. 3 - 11 and Q. 207).

7.21 The Committee was informed that in 1981, when the Youth Employment Levy was introduced, 22,000 young people were placed on various schemes. In 1983, some 45,000 young people went through similar schemes - in addition to that others completed Department of Education pre-employment courses and secretarial courses (Q.18).

7.22 The Committee considered a need for one agency, possibly the N.M.S., to be more flexible in terms of managing the labour market and in responding to employer and employment needs (Q. 57).

7.23 In general the Committee was of the view that the N.M.S. should continue to concentrate on the long-term unemployed and not dissipate its energies on registering and interviewing large numbers of unemployed people who move off the Live Register and find employment. Approximately 33,000 registrations are handled by the N.M.S. each month (Q. 209 - 216).

7.24 Consolidation of registers compiled separately at the moment by the Department of Social Welfare and the National Manpower Service would, in the Committee’s opinion, reduce abuses of the Social Welfare system and which have been a drain on tax-payers money (Q. 10).

7.25 In order to improve the response to the special problems of school leavers there is a need for the introduction of a formalised scheme for the exchange of information, not just between the Department of Social Welfare and the N M S but exchanges of information between the relevant sectors of the education system and the N M S. There is undoubtedly room for eliminating duplication of assessments. For example, each year AnCO undertakes an exercise with the N.M.S. in regard to applications for apprenticeships, whereas many of the applicants also apply to public and State-sponsored bodies sector jobs through the Civil Service Commission and State-sponsored bodies leading to the build up to other banks of information (Q. 32/40/55).

7.26 The Committee sought clarification on the primary role of the Youth Employment Agency. The Agency’s basic job was to define the problem, help to design the solutions, contract with people, using the Youth Employment Levy, to carry out programmes and later monitor and evaluate them, also to make a contribution to the process of job creation where funds were not a primary ingredient needed to create jobs. The Levy is used to make a critical intervention in resolving some of the structural difficulties that certain groups of young people from fairly well-defined areas of the country experience. The Levy would in this way hopefully break the cycle of unemployment which these young people experience (Q. 58).

7.27 The Committee found it difficult to discern the lines of demarcation between the Department of Labour, AnCO and the Youth Employment Agency (Q. 219 - 227). The Department of Labour was described as being the regional arm of the Y.E.A. which is not itself an executive budy but co-ordinates expenditure from the Youth Employment Levy. The Committee would be concerned to ensure that there would be no conflict between the Department and the Agency which would affect the cost effectiveness of the schemes funded by the Levy.

7.28 It was noted that about 65,000 leave school each year; of those about 50,000 go on to the labour market - the remainder going into third level education. Of the 50,000 approximately 70 per cent obtain work within a year. Perhaps 27,000 of the 50,000 young people arriving on the labour market have Leaving Certificates, though 8/10,000 of those would have five “D” grades or less and would be most at risk in securing work. (Q. 37/38).

7.29 The Committee noted that there was no formalised system operated by either the Y E A or the National Manpower Service for identifying and referring to the N M S at an early stage those who manifested problems of an educational/basic skills type. The answer to this would appear to be more localised management of early vocational preparation for young people.

There should be more formalised links between the education system and the N.M.S. in order that basic information can be built up about young people, their capabilities and their problems while still within the school system. This would be a significant improvement on the procedures operated at present (Q. 40).

7.30 The Committee felt that there might be a need for additional personnel trained in dealing with social and psychological problems (Q. 43).

The Y E A was of the view that local development of services did not imply any increase in overall staff numbers but rather a question of drawing local services and resources closer together and using them more effectively. (Q. 44).

Civil Service Commission

7.31 The Committee noted that there is some degree of liaison/co-ordination between the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Education in the area of publicity and recruitment for the Civil Service posts which are aimed at school leavers. However, under existing regulations posts must be advertised in the media and open competitions held. The Civil Service Commission system is computerised. The Commission saw possibilities in having a compatible system linked to the Department of Education and perhaps also the Department of Social Welfare and the National Manpower Service. (Q. 168/169). However, given the fact that the N.M.S. is now concentrating on the unemployed it would appear that effective links with the Civil Service Commission might tend to become somewhat weaker. (Q 170/171). The Committee was informed that Manpower Offices display all the relevant Commission literature aimed at school leavers (Q. 172).

7.32 The Committee noted that each Departments’ personnel section informs the Civil Service Commission of vacancies for general service or professional grades. Discussions are held on the exact requirements of the posts in question and the Commission makes the necessary arrangements. (Q. 174).

7.33 The Committee considers that there should be closer working relationships between the Commission, the Department of Education, the Department of Social Welfare, the Department of Labour and its agencies so that a more efficient and cost-effective service can be provided for those interested in employment in the public sector, whether school leavers or more mature persons.


7.34 The following statistical table indicates the level of services provided the Depts/agencies in the area of employment and training.


The following statistical summary compares the services available for employment/training.







No. employed

No. of offices/institutions

No. of persons assisted

No. Amount provided £m.












Civil Service Commission






Dept. of Education






ESF aided courses





3rd level






Dept. of Labour (National Manpower Service)






Dept. of Social Welfare



















8.1 The Committee, having completed hearing evidence from the Departments/ agencies involved in programmes for recruitment, employment and training, confirmed its initial opinion that, in this important area, there is fragmentation, duplication and a lack of co-ordination of services that is wasteful of public expenditure and unacceptable at a time when there are unprecedented demands on Exchequer resources.

8.2 The Committee is of the view that the Department of Labour should have assumed a much more dominant role due to its overall remit in the field of manpower services. The Department of the Public Service should also have been examining the structures of the Departments/agencies in question to see if the services provided were operating in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. The duplication/overlap which was allowed to develop would have been avoided if monitoring and basic management procedures had been followed.

8.3 The Committee considers that the very broad functions of AnCO, as set out in the 1967 Industrial Training Act, need to be re-assessed in the light of (a) changed economic circumstances and (b) the existence of the other agencies now involved in training.

8.4 The Committee’s opinion is that the role of the Department of Education and the Vocational Education Committees, despite their primary role in education/training, became diluted and eroded since the late Sixties by the establishment of other agencies such as AnCO and the Youth Employment Agency. This situation now needs to be redressed by the Education sector adopting a more vigorous approach than in the past. This implies an immediate re-assessment of the content of VEC courses to ensure that they are relevant to employment opportunities available at the present time.

8.5 From the users’ viewpoint the Committee is of the opinion that the various related services being provided by so many agencies must present a bewildering array of offices, forms, interviews and so on. There is an urgent need for rationalisation of those services so that the user (tax-payer in most cases) can reach his/her goal with the least possible inconvenience.

8.6 The Committee noted that a lack of adequate trained computer personnel was a barrier to improved compatible computer facilities for the services in question and an impediment to a rapid changeover from manual operations. This is an area that requires urgent attention if the system is to become more efficient and cost effective than at present.


The Committee recommends the following:

9.1 There should be greater co-ordination between Departments and agencies involved in employment/training programmes, with the Department of Labour taking a more central role in policy areas.

9.2 The Committee found evidence of duplication of services and waste of public funds; rationalisation should, therefore, take place as quickly as possible. The following paragraphs specify how this might be done.

9.3 There should be an urgent, independent, review of the National Manpower Service, in particular to ascertain to what extent the Service meets the requirements of the public at a time of high unemployment.

9.4 The Department of Social Welfare and the National Manpower Service, which compile data separately for similar large groups of people, should rapidly implement compatible computerised records. The Central Data Processing Service of the Department of the Public Service should give priority to this area. Resources for equipment and training should be met from savings identified within total public expenditure programmes in 1984.

9.5 As a corollary to 9.4 there should be a single computer file for persons registered as unemployed, seeking work and/or training. Every care should be taken as regards confidentiality and to protect the privacy of the users; personal details should be erased after a reasonable period when persons are no longer registered.

9.6 The National Manpower Service should become the single user point of contact for all services available. It should run all the special training and employment programmes and within these give preference to the longterm unemployed. It should be the gateway to all training (including all apprenticeships even outside AnCO) balancing the needs of employers and those looking for courses. It should establish an early warning link with schools for pupils with a potential to become the longterm unemployed of the future. The Service should not, in general, compile detailed records or hold interviews in respect of those unemployed for less than three months unless a specific request is made by an applicant. This would reduce the waste of staff and financial resources, as a high proportion of short-term unemployed find alternative employment through various means. The N.M.S. should introduce, by means of a sample survey, a system of monitoring those who have been placed in employment to assess how successful its placement policy is over time.

9.7 There is evidence of confusion for the users of the various services - this should be overcome by simplified procedures and by suitable publicity in the media.

9.8 A users’ sample survey should be undertaken as a matter of urgency to test to what extent existing services are meeting needs. If, as a result, changes are warranted, these should be implemented without delay.

9.9 The Committee recommends that the Department of Education, through the Vocational Education Committees, should have primary responsibility for education and training programmes for young people and that AnCO should not, in principle, duplicate such courses. It is recognised that the educational structure and the curriculum are not attuned to those who leave the educational system at an early age and that post-compulsory education courses are still required in many cases. Therefore, the Committee accepts that AnCO may have to continue education type courses in the short term. Given the present level of unemployment, AnCO activities might advantageously diversify more into teaching skills necessary for self-employment or employment opportunities. The Minister for Education should alert the new Curriculum and Examinations Board to the need for the early introduction of a curriculum which will be adaptable to those who leave the education system at an early stage but need basic skills for starting work.

9.10 AnCO should retain the task of placement from its courses even though this is a similar operation to that carried out by the NMS, as course content and conduct should be influenced closely by conditions in the Labour Market. An analysis of the work of AnCO courses should be conducted on a basis other than the percentage placed, to see that courses have a justification in social returns for the training provided. Such evaluation should be done by an outside Agency. In the course of this evaluation the distinction between “economic training” and rehabilitation training would become more clearcut from a policy point of view. A system of certification of standards reached should be provided by AnCO in respect of its technical courses.

9.11 In rationalising the existing services special attention should be paid to the following:-

(a) AnCO should ensure that there is adequate planning to meet the training or re-training needs of the 15 - 25 year age group who may face unemployment in later years.

(b) AnCO, through local community projects, should provide an advisory/training service for people who decide to seek work abroad but who may not have acquired basic skills, to prepare them for the hazards or opportunities they may meet.

9.12 The Committee recognises that the Youth Employment Agency, under the direction of the Minister for Labour (who has prime responsibility for policy), has a special role in relation to the Youth Employment Levy. There is a lack of clarity between the Youth Employment Agency and the Department of Labour itself. The Youth Employment Agency appears to conduct evaluation of different schemes provided for the young and also have the responsibility for dispersing funds. Despite this it is not a policy maker in itself, and does not have the authority to oblige agencies such as AnCO to conform to its views. The Youth Employment Agency should deal with the Agencies actually carrying out youth programmes on a subcontractor basis, where the Agency could give more explicit direction on the nature of schemes to be supported. While the Youth Employment Agency is important in evaluating and co-ordinating schemes for young people, this task is equally required for those over 25 years who in the future will become a much more difficult group to provide for within Manpower policy.

9.13 In the area of “suitable and up to date data”, referred to in the OECD examiners’ report the Central Statistics Office should take immediate action to improve the range and speed of production of statistics on employment and related indicators - in particular, in respect of the 15 to 25 years age group.

9.14 The Committee, following its assessment of present arrangements, suggests for consideration the re-arrangement or rationalisation of the existing agencies into one multi-faceted entity dealing efficiently and cost effectively with the full range of recruitment, training and employment related issues. In the interim the agencies reviewed by the Committee should hold urgent discussions under the direction of the Minister for the Public Service, who has responsibility for structures in the public service, to arrive at concrete proposals for a more streamlined cost-effective service for users. Where necessary, cost-benefit or other studies should be undertaken to arrive at decisions on the best solution.

9.15 The Minister for the Public Service should report back to the Committee at an early date on (i) progress made and (ii) savings projected or effected following the rationalisation of services and programmes for employment and training.


10 The Committee wishes to express its thanks to the following for their assistance throughout this enquiry:

Mr. S. De Buitléar and Mr. B. Lannon

Civil Service Commission

Mr. T. Breathnach and Mr. P. Moloney

Department of Education

Mr. J. Corcoran and Mr. W. Hannon

Department of Labour

Mr. J. Hynes and Mr. P.J. Madden

Department of Social Welfare

Mr. N. Greene

Chief Executive, Youth Employment Agency

Mr. M. Sherlock

Director-General, AnCO

Mr. K. J. Rooney, Mr. L. Arundel and

Irish Vocational Education Association

Mr. R. Langford


Also Dr. K.A. Kennedy, Director, Economic and Social Research Institute and the Director of Information O.E.C.D., for permission to reproduce in the report extracts from publications of their respective organisations.


Michael Keating T.D.,


31 May, 1984.

(a)See appendix 15

(a)see Appendix 8

(b)ESF aided schemes - 1983 and 1983/84

(c)“Improving Youth Employment Opportunities - Policies for Ireland and Portugal” OECD, 1984.

(a)“Employment and Unemployment Policy for Ireland”(1984) - edited by D. Conniffe and K.A. Kennedy, ESRI.

(a)Denotes question number or reply in the Minutes of Evidence.

(b)Figures as subsequently amended by D/Social Welfare; letter of 16 March 1984 Appendix 6.

(a)Persons assisted into employment by the N.M.S. This does not include:

10,200 persons placed on Work Experience Programme

8,000 persons recruited for Youth Schemes

12,000 persons placed on AnCO

(b)Comprises 218,407 claimants registered at the beginning of 1983 and 205,928 persons who made UA/UB claims during 1983 plus 414,762 persons assisted at Information Centres.

(c)Not including 11,590 trained by External Agencies under AnCO’s External Training Division.

(d)Includes £9.9 million for secretarial courses not funded by E.S.F. £37.717 million relates to 1983 and 1983/84 (Appendix 8).