Work Experience Programme Being Reviewed

David Blanchflower’s ideas on stimulus have received a lot of attention but the core of his paper, namely the imperative to act on the youth labour market side did not receive much debate. It is good though to see that the most downloaded article for the last day on the Irish Times website deals with this part of his talk and hopefully he has succeeded in pressing home the urgency of this problem.

However, those who argue that active intervention in the Irish labour market is counter-productive will be given further credence by the reports on the FAS Work Experience Programme. If the Times is correct, it is very likely that this has flopped and is currently under review.

However, if something is designed in such a way that it has no chance of success then its unclear how much we have learned from its failure. In terms of graduates, FAS simply does not have a recognition among graduates as a place to go to look for work (though even with this caveat it seems to have attracted greater interest from graduates than nongraduates). The process required companies to actively apply to FAS and also made the stipulation that the applicants themselves be unemployed for six months or more before applying. Even with this, it still got nearly 2,000 applicants.

It is important that they get this right, and start by taking it out of FAS and placing it between departments packaged in a way that will attract both the companies and the graduates. The 6 month proviso is also pointless in the current market and this should be relaxed. We cannot say that active interventions do not work until we actually begin to experiment properly with their design and approach them with more vigour than these efforts.

8 thoughts on “Work Experience Programme Being Reviewed”

  1. Another problem with the scheme when we applied to participate was that the employer already had to have ten people employed. In a country where a vast majority of firms are under ten employees, maybe the original scheme was designed not to succeed? Or maybe there was no real thought/design/market research done in advance.

  2. Rory, I actually mulled the possibility of taking someone on under the programme until I saw that the ten person qualification disqualified my company.

    But I can see where FÁS/DETE were coming from when they made the decision. I would expect providing a reasonable degree of quality assurance and oversight on the programme to take a lot more effort on average with micro-firms than with larger firms.

  3. Hearing it when anounced on the news, I thought that it would be … of questionable effectiveness.
    More people worked on puttin it together and running it than actually went thru it.

    Another pity…
    Al

  4. I have repeatedly sought these schemes but as I have only graduated this year and have only been claiming benefit for 3 months I was ineligible.

    Speak to the jobs facilitator at your local social welfare office. I was told that the department does not want to be seen putting people through college. They also do not specify that in 6 months time after the placement there are no further job guarantees.

    Go on http://www.fas.ie and try to pretend your not a world-saving economist and figure out how you would get on to thee schemes in a fair and honest way. If you check the intern/graduate jobs you should see all the empty placements.

  5. Our response to unemployment in Ireland has been little short of pathetic.

    Rather than see any more money poured into the public sector departments – who appear to have little understanding of what’s required – I would sooner see it handed over to a dynamic private sector company who will actually have the will (and capability) to create great ideas and implement them…… but we need some vision first.

    What will success look like when we get there Mary? Sadly, I don’t think she knows.

  6. We cannot increase public sector costs at this time. These measures distort competition and clearly waste money. The private sector can train employees. Their training is relevant because they go out of business if it is not. Public sector work is only for that which is vital. Banks etc are not vital and the private sector is better at the task.

    No more padding of the public sector.
    Market rules.

  7. @Liam
    It looks to me like it was designed to fail too.
    (A) The government are thinking short-term or are denying reality. They are absorbed with the budget problem or deluding themselves that things will improve soon in the employment market.
    (B) The reputation of Fas is so tarnished that the civil service are frightened about the outcome of an additional programme.

    They should be aiming to place 20,000 graduates quickly. That would be a huge psychological boost.
    A private sector person of proven experience and probity should head the programme.

    But even an initiative on this scale will not resolve the employment crisis, only ease it.

    It is mass emigration or mass unemployment…
    unless we have a once-off cut in private sector wages to allow the labour market to clear.

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