The Government Gateway scheme was discussed at the monthly council meeting in County Hall Tallaght on Monday 14th April 2014.
Sinn Fein Councillor Eoin O’Brion proposed a motion calling on South Dublin County Council not to participate in the Gateway scheme due to the unfair nature of it, this includes the lack of paid employment afterwards, the lack of training and education focus within it and the economic reality that certain participants will be less well off for taking part i.e. Child-minding costs, travel costs, lunch costs. The motion was voted against, meaning that SDCC will participate (which would likely have happened even if it was passed).
What do I think?
In its current format, I do not support the Gateway initiative. I am sure that there are 215 people within the county who would happily apply to take part, I do not believe the best form of labour activation scheme is to force long term unemployed people to take it, or face cuts in their payments. I do not support paying people €1 per hour for working. I do not support internships with zero opportunity of paid employment at the end. I do not support forcing people to take up a place if it will mean they are disproportionately out of pocket for he expense of getting there and taking part.
While some will say it is better than doing nothing, one TD even said it would “get them out of bed”, others will say it will improve their employability and confidence, among other things. I say it might, if they were voluntarily participating, undertaking roles they are interested in and motivated by.
Labour activation schemes are vital for our economic recovery as a nation. Exploiting people for cheap labour is not how I would like to go about it.