FAS – Concerns about Financial Control Systems for CE & JI Schemes

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boo-boo

Taken from today’s Sunday Business Post “FAS Under Further Pressure”.

Following an examination of several CE and JI projects, FAS have uncovered evidence that CE Sponsor Groups have being misusing monies that have been allocated for CE projects.

These concerns were raised by Paul O’Toole FAS Director General in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee. In particular FAS highlighted concerns about CE projects which has an annual budget expenditure of €392 million.

Community Employment is a scheme that offers long-term unemployed and vulnerable people temporary placements in community-based projects so that they can develop skills and obtain the experience of work. The scheme is sponsored by community based voluntary groups and public not for profit organisations. Under the Scheme each sponsor group must develop a separate limited company for the CE Project and have a separate bank account for dispensing the FAS funds.

The areas of concern that were identified by FAS included excessive insurance premiums, landlord’s electricity bills, excessive audit fees and large claims for maintenance and cleaning materials.

The letter also makes reference to the “top-ups” to wages of CE supervisors by other State bodies which essentially mean’s that the supervisor post is being double funded by another State body to provide the exact same service and within the same number of hours.

Forfas has also raised concerns about the operation of CE projects which itself recommended changes as part of a wider overhaul of job training programmes. It concluded that employment programmes offered by FAS were not designed to deliver or meet the changing labour market needs of our society. It questioned the underlying purpose of CE in light of figures that showed that while 7,736 persons participated in the scheme in 2008, costing €126,000 for each person, only 44% of the persons who completed the scheme obtained employment or went onto further education. Forfas stated that FAS needs to decide whether CE was designed to get people back into work or whether it was a community programme with inherent disincentives to people taking jobs in the open labour market.

From my own experience I would have grave concerns about this scheme. I have seen projects being established where CE funds that were drawn down from the bank account were used for the sponsor organisation and for non-CE related activities. In other instances, monies from the CE account were paid not only to a false address but also to a third person who was nominated by the person who did actually carry out the work. In other words, CE sponsors were deliberately falsifying accounts and facilitating tax avoidance. Other CE sponsor groups not only failed to provide and submit detailed company accounts to the CRO but they also farmed out CE workers to for-profit companies. I would be questioning whether these CE sponsor organisations were obtaining financial kickbacks from providing for-profit organisations with free labour.

Few of the CE workers on the schemes that I have experience of ever transgressed into full-time employment or further training. After finishing on the scheme many participants just went back into the welfare benefits system with officials and doctors in the Department of Social Protection never really checking if a person was capable of working for a minimum of 19.5 hours in the previous year, how come now after they ceased the scheme they then suddenly become "unfit for work" again...and why cant they even work the same P/T hours? Despite having spent one year on the scheme and training monies totalling €500 having being allocated by FAS for participants to participate in a training or education course, few participants that I have experience of ever participated in any course or education and nor was it encouraged by the CE supervisor. So what happened to the training monies that FAS allocated for each worker?

The major disincentive of CE and indeed JI was the double payment arrangement where in addition to being paid a CE salary, many participants also retained their full rate welfare entitlement together with their medical cards. Participants regularly boasted about how well financially they were doing under the scheme, certainly better than people who went to college and got non-CE paid employment, and in many instances these participants also supplemented their CE and welfare payments with cash in hand black market jobs which coincidently they continued to do when they went back into the welfare benefits system. Ironically and in total contradiction with the general aims of the scheme, many of these participants also said quite openly and early-on that they had no intention whatsoever of getting a job when the scheme ceases because as they put it getting a paid job would not be worth their while because from their point of view they would automatically loose all their welfare entitlements! And while these people had no intention of ever moving onto getting a paid non-CE job, they also took a place and the opportunity from a person who might genuinely want to get a job and benefit from the scheme.

Other issues relate to the recruitment process for these type of projects. In one instance a CE supervisor position for a newly established project was publically advertised by the sponsor group as is the requirement for any publically funded post. However, shortly after advertising and prior to the closing date for receipt of completed applications, the directors of this particular sponsor group and an unnamed FAS Development Worker mutually agreed on the person who would be definitely short-listed and be appointing to the post. That named person is currently the CE Supervisor in this particular project.
 
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Canis

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Has anyone looked for a job on the FÁS website? A lot of the advertised work is slave labour. Since childhood I have been led to believe that it is immoral to make use of slaves. Maybe I was lied to. Maybe there has been, to use an in vogue clever-sounding word, a sea-change.

By the by, has anyone noticed that about 99% of the advertised jobs required experience?

How is one supposed to get on the career ladder if experience is required in the first place?
 

Canis

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Do a bit of voluntary work.
So people should do as much work as paid employees for nothing? That is immoral. I would rather be homeless than work for free in order to gain experience.
 

Pauli

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Whatever about nopw, anybody who thinks that FAS, at the height of our economic mirage, was anything other than an elaborate slush fund is deluded.
 

controller

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So people should do as much work as paid employees for nothing? That is immoral. I would rather be homeless than work for free in order to gain experience.
I give you U.S. Government Internships......



washingtonpost.com
 

Indy-pendant

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So people should do as much work as paid employees for nothing? That is immoral. I would rather be homeless than work for free in order to gain experience.
Maybe this is off-topic, but I just couldn't let this comment pass.

I had a really interesting conversation recently with a person who had been made redundant at the age of 53. He was gutted and didn't know where to turn at first. When he went about looking for a job, he realised that the most important skills he had didn't even come from his former job, but from the voluntary work he'd been involved in all his life - managing people, facilitating, team development, conflict resolution, etc. By contrast, his work-related skills were specific to his former job, and not so transferable.

For myself, voluntary work was the most enriching way of using my time I've ever experienced. I got involved because it was something I was passionately interested in and I wanted to 'do my bit' in my local area. I never expected that it would lead to paid employment, but that's how it worked out.

If everyone had the attitude in the quote above, we'd all be much the poorer for it - Think of it, no GAA or other sports clubs, human rights groups, parents associations, social housing groups, special interest groups, parish halls, active retirement... the list is simply endless.
 

Canis

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If everyone had the attitude in the quote above, we'd all be much the poorer for it - Think of it, no GAA or other sports clubs, human rights groups, parents associations, social housing groups, special interest groups, parish halls, active retirement... the list is simply endless.
Wires have been crossed. Volunteer work is ok. I was taking issue with work placement and CE schemes and internships. I realise I may have made an error in my response to someone above.

Much of the experience which employers value is of no use. For example, if someone is good at managing people or events then experience has very little to do with that; the way in which a persons mind is wired up is much more important.

Far too much weight is place on experience by employers. Natural ability is more important in many cases.
 

TimBuckII

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Yes I am
So people should do as much work as paid employees for nothing? That is immoral. I would rather be homeless than work for free in order to gain experience.
Do it for a worthy chartiy or something in your community like the GAA or local Soccer club.

Rather than look for reasons to not gain experience an employer will be more impressed if you look for ways of gaining experience.
 

Cato

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So people should do as much work as paid employees for nothing? That is immoral. I would rather be homeless than work for free in order to gain experience.
I work for a charity and 60% of the work we do relies on voluntary work. We also have CE scheme people working in the charity and they do valuable work. I have the height of respect for volunteers.
 

Canis

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Employers are idiots. One particular employer wants an kitchen porter with 3 years experience.

Kitchen Porter Required - Dublin 12

Job Description

To undertake all aspects in cleaning equipment: walls up to 6ft, floors, fixtures, fittings, pots, pans, cutlery, crockery, glassware etc., to the Company?s standard according to the cleaning rota or as directed. To ensure tables and accompaniments are kept as clean as is reasonably practicable and adequately stocked during service times and relay as required. To load service counters as and when directed and to ensure sufficient supplies throughout the service period. Check deliveries and temperatures on delivery, also record food temperatures during service temperatures. To fulfil any reasonable management request. To attend/receive any job-related training as required.To assist at any special functions, some of which may occur outside working hours. To report any customer complaints or compliments and take some remedial action if at all possible. To attend meetings and training courses as may be necessary. To provide cover in other areas during periods of holidays and sickness.

Experience Required:

Fully Experienced
Minimum Experience: 3 Years

HOW ON EARTH ARE PEOPLE SUPPOSED TO GET ON THE ECONOMIC LADDER, ESPECIALLY YOUNG UNSKILLED PEOPLE, IF EMPLOYERS DEMAND EXPERIENCE FOR EVEN THE MOST LOW-LEVEL, REMEDIAL JOBS?

The ad above demanding years of experience for a entry level, unskilled job is NOT, IS NOT, atypical!

http://jobseeker.fas.ie/Default.aspx?currentjobfilter=Job_Type-1,Job_Location-4,Occupations-5&pagetype=10&coursepage=&vacancyid=568605&courseid=&command=16&currentcoursefilter=&resultID=27b09211-4dd7-4947-ac91-0c4846be50c7&resultpage=&criterionid=&allowanceroot=Root-2&searchtype=2&jobpage=&courseroot=Root-3&dofilter=&leveldesc=JOBS&terms=&jobroot=Root-1&criterionpage=&
 


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