New research examines the effectiveness of recent reforms made to Ireland’s public employment services, Intreo

New ESRI research, commissioned by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), finds some evidence to suggest that the most recent reforms made to Ireland’s public employment services - Intreo - led to jobseekers exiting the Live Register. However, the results are confined to the Dublin regions examined in the study and do not necessarily reflect the impact of the reforms nationally.

The study finds no consistent evidence that the Intreo reforms had an impact on exits from the Live Register to employment or education for jobseekers either in Dublin or nationally. Overall, the findings suggest that the Live Register exits may have been driven by efficiency gains for the DEASP through the early identification of invalid unemployment claims, as a result of the Intreo reforms.

A key component of the reforms, which commenced in 2012, has been the merger of unemployment benefit provision and employment services into ‘one-stop-shop’ Intreo centres.  Prior to this, jobseekers had to interact with three separate organisations to access benefit and employment services. This restructuring, and other changes, aim to deliver more streamlined, efficient and targeted PES that respond to jobseekers’ needs.  

The ESRI used data from the Department’s Jobseeker Longitudinal Dataset to examine if the reforms increased the likelihood of newly unemployed jobseekers: i) leaving the Live Register, ii) progressing to employment, iii) entering an education, training or employment placement course, or iv) moving on to some other destination. The study did this by comparing the outcomes of newly unemployed jobseekers prior to the reforms (during the period April 2011 to June 2012) and after the reforms had been implemented (from April 2013 to June 2014).

The researchers stress that the data only allowed them to measure the short-run impact of the Intreo reforms and cannot rule out that more substantial impacts could have occurred after June 2014 or in the future.

Given that the reforms focused on streamlining benefit receipt and employment services rather than fundamentally modifying the nature of the services provided, it is not surprising that the study finds that the impact on exits from unemployment are not substantial and that the changes have been in the area of efficient administration of public employment services.

Elish Kelly, ESRI researcher and one of the authors of the report, commented, “The reforms that have been made to Ireland’s public employment services under Intreo are welcome. However, going forward it is important that the supports being provided to jobseekers are continuously monitored, including any further changes made to the delivery of public employment services, to ensure that the needs of unemployed people are being met.”