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Employability across the Irish Sea

Published: 18 Jan 2016 00:01

Fair Work Secretary undertakes visits in Dublin and Belfast.

Lessons will be learned from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland on their approach to helping people towards work.

Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training Roseanna Cunningham will visit Dublin and Belfast this week (Monday and Tuesday), meeting skills and employment ministers and undertake a number of fact finding visits.

The move comes as the Scottish Government starts to finalise plans for new employability services when powers are devolved next spring, but follow the announcement of a planned 87 per cent funding cut by the UK government.

Ahead of the visit Ms Cunningham said:

"A key part of the development of any new policy or programme is learning lessons from others and the Scottish Government has done so consistently over the whole range of portfolio areas. The Republic of Ireland is one of our nearest neighbours and I am very keen to hear about their experiences of helping people into jobs, particularly during a period of economic volatility.

"I am particularly interested in Intreo, a new Irish service which will act as a single point of contact for all employment and income support.This will help inform the creation of new Scottish employability service once such powers are devolved in 2017.

"However, we must not lose sight of the fact that the Chancellor's November spending review contained a crippling funding cut to the employability budget that leaves Scotland with a comparative pittance to implement services that should be designed to transform people's lives.

"I expect the Irish Minister of State for Employability Services to be a helpful source of information in this area, likewise the Northern Ireland Assembly Minister for Employment. I will also be seeing Steps2Success, the NI Department for Employment and Learning's main adult employment programme, which provides opportunities for jobseekers to build up their skills and experience.

"There are some similarities between Northern Ireland and Scotland in our demographics and, as another devolved government, I am confident they will offer further insight on support for the unemployed."

Notes to editors

The visit will include a meeting with Irish Minister of State for Employability Services Kevin Humphreys in Dublin on Monday, followed by a visit to the nearby Intreo Centre.

On Tuesday Ms Cunningham will meet Northern Ireland Assembly Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry in Belfast, followed by a visit to Steps2Success and a nearby jobs and benefit centre.