The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), representing Ireland’s 49 Local Development Companies (LDCs) have called on Oireachtas members to ensure that the future of Community based Local Employment Services are protected and developed, as the Dáil resumes this week. ILDN are urging the Government to consider the rollout of a Local Development Company-led employment services model as part of the response to the unemployment crisis arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commenting on its proposals, ILDN CEO Joe Saunders said; “Our members are concerned regarding proposed changes to the inclusive, community-based, not-for-profit model of public employment services in Ireland currently operated by Local Employment Services.. Thus, we have provided government with an offer to provide additional community-based services nationally that will be open to all jobseekers including those who don’t currently qualify for welfare payments. In designing any employment service, it is ILDN’s firm belief that the needs of jobseekers must be central and paramount. Local Development Companies have 25 years operational learning in both preparing jobseekers for work and helping them to access work. The long-term unemployed have multiple barriers to accessing and sustaining employment. Employment Services must be part of the integrated provision of social and personal service as part of a non-profit based public employment service.”

Outlining some of the concerns shared by ILDN members and Communities with regards what may be planned for the provision of Local Employment Services, Mr Saunders continued; “There is presently a lack of clarity in terms of what is envisaged in terms of a Local Employment Service model going forward. It is proposed to end a very successful model of community-based provision but there are many questions about what will replace it – what type of service will it be, who will it be open to and on what financial model will it be funded and evaluated? The ILDN believes that the needs of those most vulnerable outside and inside the labour market are best served within the not-for-profit sector.

The financial model will be key to meeting jobseekers’ needs. Costs-bid and cost-per-unit models do not serve jobseekers well – the former does not allow for the development of adequate infrastructure and skilled staff amongst providers whilst the effectiveness of the latter is dependent on unemployment remaining high which is contrary to the aims of the service. Furthermore, a costs-bid model fundamentally undermines the involvement of the Not-for-Profit sector which cannot afford to frontload costs in order to generate later profit. There is no upside in cost, governance or service levels with such a model.”

Concluding, Mr Saunders noted; “Employment services are best located in community settings, operated by providers who can tailor to local circumstances, building relations with local employers. LDCs have a key strength in providing holistic wraparound services for individuals, families and communities.”

ILDN Local Employment Service Proposal is available here: