The European Social Fund (ESF) is Europe’s main tool for promoting employment and social inclusion – helping people get a job (or a better job), integrating disadvantaged people into society and ensuring fairer life opportunities for all. It does this by investing in Europe’s people and their skills – employed and jobless, young and old.
The Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning, PEIL for short, is the only ESF programme in Ireland for the 2014 to 2020 period. It was formally approved by the European Commission in February 2015 and was launched in April of that year. The Programme involves a total investment of €1.157 billion; over €544 million each from the ESF and the Irish Government and a special allocation of just over €68 million from the EU’s Youth Employment Initiative.
What objectives is the PEIL 2014-2020 set up to achieve?
In line with the investment priorities set out in the ESF Regulation, the key areas chosen for investment in Ireland revolve around activation of the unemployed, social and labour market inclusion, education and youth employment.
The Department of Justice and Equality and the PEIL 2014-2020
The Department manages funding in three areas of activity under the PEIL 2014-2020, Priority 2: Social Inclusion and Equal Opportunities:
- Gender Equality:
- Integration and Employment of Migrants:
- Garda Youth Diversion Projects
The Gender Equality activity area contains two separate strands: A) Women Returning to the Workforce; and B) Women’s Entrepreneurship.
Strand A - Women Returning to the Workforce: In line with the Government’s ‘Action Plan for Jobs 2016’, the Department of Social Protection’s strategy ‘Pathways to Work 2016-2020’ has identified a group of people “who, although not classified as unemployed jobseekers, have the potential and the desire to play a more active role in the labour force” as a key target for job activation measures. Women in this category are the target participants for this Activity.
Strand B – Women’s Entrepreneurship: The Government issued a National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship in 2014, which recognises that ‘entrepreneurship is a key element in the health and wellbeing of any thriving economy and will be central to Ireland’s continuing recovery. The Global entrepreneurship Monitor 2014 Report for Ireland, reported that Irish men are 2.1 times more likely than Irish women to be an Early Stage Entrepreneur, and 2.4 times more likely than Irish women to be New Business Owners. The EU- 28 average ratio of 1.8:1 of men to women Early Stage Entrepreneurs suggest that there is still a pool of women entrepreneurs to be supported by this activity.
Integration and Employment of Migrants
This activity is aimed at legally resident migrants who are experiencing barriers to participation and employment because of language difficulties, lack of training or social exclusion. It proposes to increase the levels of employability of the participants who can be EEA Nationals who are resident in Ireland and Third Country Nationals with permission to enter employment in Ireland.
Garda Youth Diversion Projects
The Garda Youth Diversion Programme is provided for in the Children’s Act 2001. The Garda Diversion Programme is supported by a network of Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs).
GYDPs are community-based multi-agency crime prevention initiatives, which seek to divert young people who have become involved in crime/anti-social behavior and to support wider preventative work within the community and with families at risk. There are currently 105 GYDPs state-wide, and a further 10 projects with a special focus (e.g. more challenging children, family support, etc.).
The Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) secured co-funding for Garda Youth Diversion Projects through the European Social Fund 2014-2020 Programme for the specific purpose of improving the education and employability prospects of young people engaged in the projects.
GYDPs are administered by the Department of Justice and Equality’s Youth Crime Policy and Programmes Division, which operates as part of the Irish Youth Justice Service in partnership with the Garda Youth Diversion Office. Each project is managed by a Community Based Organisation (e.g., Foróige, Youth Work Ireland, Crosscare, etc.).