Dáil Éireann - Volume 595 - 16 December, 2004

Written Answers. - Unemployment Levels.

  19. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his strategy to tackle high rates of unemployment among disabled workers. [33560/04]

  Mr. Killeen: Training and employment services for people with a disability were restructured in June 2000 as part of the Government’s policy of mainstreaming services to people with disabilities. The objective of the Government’s mainstreaming policy is to provide services to people with disabilities in a more integrated way, offering more choice and options than was previously available. This approach is in accordance with the recommendations contained in the report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities, which was published in 1996.

Under the Government’s mainstreaming policy responsibility for providing vocational training and employment services for people with disabilities transferred from the Department of Health and Children to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Responsibility for rehabilitative training, that is, personal development and basic life skills, and sheltered workshops remains with the Department of Health and Children.

My Department’s policies in this area are being developed through a three dimensional approach: developing the skills of people with disabilities for employment; stimulating awareness among employers of the contribution which people with disabilities can make to their businesses; and providing a range of employment supports for people with disabilities and employers.

People with disabilities now benefit from the full range of FÁS training programmes and services and FÁS also provides an extensive range of schemes and grants to promote employment of people with disabilities in the private sector.

I was recently pleased to announce that €5 million is being provided to FÁS in 2005 to launch a new employment support scheme for people with disabilities. This funding will allow the introduction of a new full-time support scheme on a three year pilot basis, aimed at increasing the numbers [1034] of people with disabilities in full time employment in the open labour market.

My Department’s objective in the period ahead is to consolidate the significant value added in advancing the employment and training agenda since assuming policy responsibility for vocational training and employment for people with disabilities.