|Structure of the Pact
Background and Purpose
DEP was established in 1998 on the initiative of the Department of the Taoiseach and with the support of the social partners, expressed in the national agreement Partnership 2000.
While local area partnerships had been piloted during the 1990s (under PESP), it was felt that besides the local level Dublin needed a region-wide strategic approach to shared problems around employment and social inclusion. This was why, when EU resources became available, the idea of the Pact was promoted by the Department of the Taoiseach (Dermot McCarthy) and achieved wide support among the social partners and across the local development sector. It was felt that integration at Dublin region level would enable practical strategies to be developed from local good practice and that the Pact could fulfil this role. This was then formalised by inviting these organisations, public authorities, statutory agencies, social partners and other local development interests to get involved in the Pact.
Charter and Board structure
In 1999 the partners to the Pact signed a Charter committing themselves to cooperate in tackling unemployment, educational disadvantage and social exclusion in the Dublin Region. Patricia O’Donovan and Brian Geoghegan signed for Ictu and Ibec, and Paddy Teahon (Dept. Taoiseach) for the Government Departments. These were joined by representatives of the other interests involved.
In 2001 the Pact was restructured as a non-profit company with the sectoral representatives on its Board becoming its Directors. These comprised representatives of the social partners (Ibec, Ictu, Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Congress Unemployed Centres), the Dublin local authorities, the Dublin enterprise boards, government and statutory agencies (incl. Department of Taoiseach, FÁS), the educational sector, the Dublin local authorities, and the Dublin Local Partnerships.
Strategies and actions
The work of the Pact comes under four strategies:
Building integrated social inclusion strategies in the Dublin Region
Creating a more open, accessible and inclusive Dublin labour Market
Enhancing creativity and innovation in local enterprise programmes
Innovative solutions to Education and Skill Disadvantage in Dublin Labour Market
Under these strategies the Pact has sought to impact on policy towards Dublin. It has held many forums, round tables and conferences. Such round tables have been on issues as diverse as Social Finance, Educational Strategy for Disadvantaged Areas, Dublin in the Knowledge Age, etc. Policy groups were formed on key issues around the integration of migrants, labour market policy, educational disadvantage, social economy and other areas. These groups have brought policy makers and practitioners together to work on practical solutions to current problems.
Much fine research was commissioned by these policy groups and was used to impact effectively on government policy and on practice at local and national level. Many of these initiatives also involved implementing pilot projects on the ground to test out proposed strategies, e.g. in the large scale cross-Dublin Community ICT Programme (IT training in community groups through peer mentors), the Learning at Work programme (targeted at early school leavers in employment in six Dublin partnership areas), the EU-funded Equal at Work programme (opening employment access in companies and organisations across the public, private and community sectors in Dublin), etc.
Partners and participation
The core of the Pact is its 17-member Board representing all key social partners and interests in Dublin with regard to employment and social inclusion. In addition, for all actions developed by the Pact, the key organisations and interests in the specific area concerned are brought together to cooperate on the issue at hand. Equal at Work, for example, involves 55 organisations, social partners, companies, public sector institutions etc. The Education Policy Group of the Pact involves representatives of Department of Education, FÁS, VEC, trade unions, local partnerships, school principles, community sector, etc. In the past year over 300 people representing a very diverse range of organisations across Dublin have been involved in policy groups, project steering committees and other forums of the Pact.
Funding and programmes
Since 2001 DEP has been an independent non-profit company (reg. 340167) with charitable status. In 2001 it transferred to national funding under the NDP. Its core funding since then has been allocated through the Local Development Social Inclusion Programme administered by the agency Pobal for Department CRGA. This is the same programme under which the local partnerships are funded.
DEP funding through Pobal is very much core funding. It is allocated on the basis of approved three-year Action Plans and annual programmes of activities. The 2004-06 Plan has been extended to the end of 2007, with annual funding of €300,000. This core funding is essential to DEP, and has enabled it leverage larger sums for further programmes. In 2006, for example, the core €300,000 enabled a further €1m to be drawn down for specific projects and initiatives from other sources such as European Social Fund, FÁS, Dept. of Education, Information Society Fund, etc.
DEP has implemented large scale programmes and projects with the active support and collaboration of representatives of numerous organisations and agencies. DEP itself has a small staff, currently just three people on permanent employment contracts, two more on fixed term part-time contracts and several others employed as independent contractors on specific tasks.
Despite limited resources, DEP has engaged with all major social policy initiatives by the state, notably with the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, the NESC (especially the proposed national framework strategy Development Welfare State), the NESF (especially consultation on Creating an Inclusive Labour Market), the National Development Plan (future Local Development Programme), etc.