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What is Pathways to Work?

 Pathways to Work is a Government strategy designed to reverse the dramatic rise in the numbers of unemployed jobseekers on the Live Register. It is designed to complement the Action Plan for Jobs as part of a twin-pronged approach to tackling the jobs crisis that emerged in the final years of the last decade.

In January 2016, the second phase of the strategy, Pathways to Work 2016 - 2020 was launched, laying out actions for this Government priority over the next five years. It contains six key strands involving 86 dedicated actions to build on the employment progress to date under previous Pathways strategies.

While the Action Plan for Jobs prioritises stimulating employment growth, Pathways to Work is focused on making sure that as many as possible of these new jobs, and other vacancies that arise in the economy are filled by people from the Live Register. Pathways to Work is coordinated by the Department of Social Protection, working together with a number of other Departments and Agencies. The Pathways To Work process is also supported by the Labour Market Council, which you can read more about below. 

Pathways to Work 2016-2020

Pathways to Work 2016-2020 will enhance employment, education and training services for jobseekers, continue with reforms to make work pay, and increase engagement with employers to provide greater opportunities for those seeking work.

PTW16_INT View Pathways to Work 2016-2020 report

Results from Pathways to Work 2012-2015 

The 2012-2015 Pathways strategies have been successful in contributing to a reduction of circa 42% in the number of people unemployed during that period, with overall unemployment now standing at 8.8%. As part of those strategies, the Department of Social Protection was transformed from the passive benefits provider of old to an active and engaged public employment service, with 60 new and refurbished Intreo Centres established across the country to allow jobseekers get income and employment supports in the one place. The number of caseworkers dealing with jobseekers was doubled, and a range of progressive reforms and new schemes were put in place, ranging from the Youth Guarantee and JobsPlus to the Back to Work Family Dividend and JobPath.

Pathways to Work 2015

Pathways To Work 2015 continues the approach set by Pathways to Work 2013. In particular it brings a sharper focus on actions to help tackle long term and youth joblessness –two of the major challenges the country still faces. This updated Pathways to Work strategy has been devised to ensure engagement with employers is a major cornerstone of the Government's activation approach.

Pathways to Work 2015 LogoPathways to Work 2015 Infographic View Pathways to Work 2015 report or infographic.

Pathways to Work 2013

Pathways to Work 2013 was the first annual revision of the approach and contained a series of ambitious actions and targets, which followed on from the initial programme set out in Pathways to Work 2012.

Pathways to Work 2013 LogoPathways to Work 2013 Infographic

View Pathways to Work 2013 report or infographic

What is the Labour Market Council?

Pathways to Work is supported by the Labour Market Council, a group of representatives from leading business, research and civil society organisations to help the implementation of the strategy. The Council advises the Government on the implementation of the Pathways strategy, they monitor progress and put forward additional proposals to complement the reforms to the Government's Labour Market policy.

The membership of the Labour Market Council is:


  • Martin Murphy, MD Hewlett Packard Ireland (Chairman of the Council)
  • Tony Keohane, Chairman, Tesco Ireland (pictured here) 
  • Siobhan Talbot, Chief Executive, Glanbia
  • Heather Reynolds, Chief Executive, Eishtec
  • Frank Ryan, Chairman, IDA Ireland
  • Alan Gray, Managing Director, Indecon International Economic Consultants 
  • John Martin, Former Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD
  • Philip O'Connell, Director, Geary Institute
  • Marie Sherlock, Economic Adviser, SIPTU
  • Tony O'Donohoe, Head of Education, Social and Policy, IBEC
  • Bríd O'Brien, Head of Policy and Media, INOU

The skills of the Council members range from building businesses and creating thousands of jobs to developing innovative labour market policies and fighting for the best interests of jobseekers.

Between them, the members have a strong blend of skills to help drive implementation of the Pathways strategy and advise on what further actions can be taken across Government to increase employment.

The Council meets every six weeks, and presents its views to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Jobs. The Council is supported in its work by the Department of Social Protection and other relevant Government Departments responsible for the Pathways to Work strategy.

Labour Market Council Logo

Download the Interim Report of the Labour Market Council, by clicking here or on the image.