The Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration at the Department of Justice and Equality, Mr. David Stanton T.D., today congratulated Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) on their achievement in being chosen as an emblematic project as a recipient of funding from the European Social Fund, one of the Cohesion Policy funds. The European Union Cohesion Policy is celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2018 and a number of projects from across the EU have been selected to highlight activities that benefit from the funds.
BITCI’s Employment of People from Immigrant Communities (EPIC) is the only project from across the EU that has been selected as an exemplar of the use of European Funding to assist migrants in finding employment and education. BITCI’s EPIC programme helps disadvantaged and vulnerable migrants to raise their skills and to find employment and training opportunities, including work placement and mentoring. BITCI uses its extensive range of partner organisations and contacts to provide these opportunities to participants on its EPIC programme.
The Department of Justice and Equality provides funding to projects who assist and provide services to facilitate integration and employment of migrants. The BITCI project is co-funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020 and has been awarded €1.9m over a four year programme following an open call for proposals.
Minister Stanton stated:
“I am delighted to see BITCI’s project chosen as an emblematic project. The EPIC programme is a great example of how government, business and non-profit partnership can use EU Funding for the benefit of society. EPIC not only provides our new communities with the tools to seek and find employment but - what is equally important - it provides an introduction to the social and work environment in which migrants will operate into the future. The success of EPIC is in large part due to the work and dedication of all those involved and it is significant that it has been recognised as part of the 30 Years of Cohesion campaign from among many other projects across all EU countries.”
The Cohesion Policy is the EU’s main investment policy and it targets all regions and cities in the European Union in order to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and improve citizens’ quality of life. The European Social Fund is one of the funds through which Cohesion Policy is delivered and is Europe’s main instrument for supporting jobs, helping people get better jobs and ensuring fairer job opportunities. It works by investing in Europe’s human capital – its workers, its young people and all those seeking a job. The BITCI project is co-funded from the European Social Fund and from the national exchequer through the Department of Justice and Equality. The Department has an allocated €3.3m to organisations over the period 2017-20 who will provide services around the integration and employment of migrants.
The Programme for Government 2011-2016 states that Ireland will promote policies which integrate minority ethnic groups, and which promote social inclusion, equality, diversity and the participation of immigrants in the economic, social, political and cultural life of their communities.
Under the Europe 2020 Strategy and the Partnership Agreement for Ireland 2014-2020, Ireland must raise the employment rate for women and men aged 20-64 to 69-71%, through the greater participation of young people, older workers and low-skilled workers and the better integration of legal migrants. The 2016 census highlights 11.6% of the population of Ireland are non-national; of these, 76% are EU nationals. The success of migrants in accessing employment is a key indicator of successful integration.
The CEO of Business in the Community Ireland, Mr. Tomás Sercovich, stated:
“We are delighted to partner strategically with the Department of Justice and Equality in this unique initiative at the European level so are especially excited to see that our EPIC programme was chosen as an example of best in class for Cohesion Policy. The sustained growth of Ireland’s economy relies on attracting and promoting talent from all over the world. It is a privilege for Business in the Community Ireland to connect leading businesses with outstanding talent. We must ensure that we favour a labour market that is open to all talents and that can help create a thriving economy and an inclusive society. This is a win-win-win for business, government and our great people”, Tomás Sercovich, CEO Business in the Community Ireland“
This operation is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020.
Note for Editors:
In 2018, EU cohesion policy will celebrate its 30th anniversary. ‘Cohesion policy’ is the policy behind the hundreds of thousands of projects all over Europe that receive funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund. It aims to improve the economic well-being of regions in the EU and also to avoid regional disparities. Cohesion policy has been accompanying the evolutions of the European Union: From the creation of the single market to the need to foster convergence to underpin the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), successive enlargements and most recently, the need to respond to the migration crisis. Also in the future, cohesion policy shall stay at the very core of the Union's development. It will enable the EU to harness globalisation, and to foster prosperous economies, caring societies and sustainable growth through innovation and skills.
Cohesion Policy is delivered through three main funds.
‣ European Regional Development Fund (ERDF): aims to strengthen regional economic and social cohesion by investing in growth- enhancing sectors to improve competitiveness and create jobs. The ERDF also finances cross-border cooperation projects.
‣ European Social Fund (ESF): invests in people, with a focus on improving employment and education opportunities. It also aims to help disadvantaged people at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
‣ Cohesion Fund: invests in green growth and sustainable development, and improves connectivity in Member States with a GDP below 90 % of the EU-27 average. (Ireland does not receive assistance from the Cohesion Fund)
Together with the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), they make up the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds https://ec.europa.eu/eip/ageing/funding/ESIF_en .
The ESI Funds support economic development across the European Union. These Funds make up over half of the European Union’s budget. In Ireland these funds are used, together with Irish Government and Local Authority funding, to invest €6.2 Billion in the 2014-2020 period.
2018 is the year to take stock and to look at what lies ahead. Throughout the year, the European Commission will organise events and exhibitions around 30 years of cohesion policy. Each Member State was asked for nominations of highly emblematic and symbolic projects financed by cohesion policy (ERDF-CF-ESF), with one project being chosen per Member State.
The Department of Justice and Equality ran an open call for proposals in late 2016 to fund activities that were aimed at legally resident migrants who were experiencing barriers to participation and employment because of language difficulties, lack of training or social exclusion. A total of €3.3m was allocated to five projects providing these types of activities over the period 2017-21.
From 2008 to 2016, BITC received over €3.9m in funding from the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration and the European Social Fund for the EPIC programme. Currently the programme is supported by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration and the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020 as part of the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020. In 2016, 338 participants from 64 countries engaged with the EPIC programme. The corresponding figures for the year to date in 2017 are 306 participants from 44 countries.
Key supporters of the EPIC programme from the business sector include BT, CPL, Accenture and Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
Migrant Integration Strategy – A Blueprint for the Future
The Migrant Integration Strategy which was published on the 7th of February, 2017 sets out the Government’s approach to the issue of migrant integration for the period from 2017 to 2020. It envisages a whole-of-Government approach involving actions by all Departments. It is targeted at all migrants, including refugees, who are legally residing in the State. It is also intended to encompass those who have become naturalised Irish citizens but who were born outside Ireland.
Specific actions to improve the employment prospects of migrants include:
The Further Education and Training Authority (SOLAS) will through its funding and reporting requirements, require the Education and Training Boards to ensure that their Further Education and Training courses provision meet the specific needs of migrants e.g. language acquisition, knowledge of the Irish working environment, interview skills, c.v. preparation etc. This provision will be either directly on their principal courses or through part-time modular provision parallel to the learners’ participation on their principal courses as appropriate.
Education or training programmes specifically catering for unemployed migrants whose language skills require development will contain a language component.
Appropriate levels of quality engagement with migrants who are registered jobseekers will be ensured. The promotion of the availability of employment services to ‘voluntary engagers’/‘walk-in’ immigrants not on the Live Register, if such person is entitled to work here, in the new Pathways to Work strategy will be undertaken.
An analysis will be undertaken to assess the extent to which the level of joblessness among jobseekers of African origin exceeds that of other groups and determine what action, if any, is required to address any evidence that people of African origin face higher barriers to exit unemployment.