Labour market skills gap could be filled by lone parents

New future beckons for lone parents as return to work programme records over 70% success rate


(Dublin, Thursday 6 September 2018) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone and sharing parenting – has said that lone parents could fill the skills gap in the labour market if the Government were to provide targeted supports to parents. The call comes as the charity launched its annual review for 2017 which shows that, to-date,over 70% of graduates who completed the ESF funded ‘New Futures’, ‘Options’, ‘New Steps’ and ‘Pathway’ programmes are now in employment or education.

Speaking at One Family’s Annual Graduation event, One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “The long-term unemployment rate fell from 3.2 per cent of the labour force last year to 2 per cent today. This means the traditional pool of unemployed workers to grow our workforce is also drying up.There is an easily accessible solution available for the Government – lone parents. Many lone parents have been hampered in returning to the workforce by a lack of childcare, difficult relationships, court battles and an overly complex and punitive social welfare system.

“Our programmes show how targeted supports, such as specialist bridging programmes,can support parents on social welfare out of poverty and back to education and ultimately the work force. These parents are full of potential, hugely resilient, adaptable and committed and with adequate supports such as childcare and a more compassionate court and social welfare system they could help to reduce the skills shortage in the labour market.If Government is serious about lifting 100,000 children out of poverty in Ireland they need to start with children living in one-parent families and really support their parents to develop sustainable careers.”

Graduate and lone parent Sarah Conway said, “The programme was great, you’re supported and challenged to be the best person you can be and the opportunity to develop a clear career plan. But it’s more than that, it’s the support behind you, you feel like you are part of something and that whatever challenges you face there is somebody there to lend a hand. I’m back at work now and together with my daughters we can start to see light at the end of the tunnel and a better future.”

Ms Kiernan added, “The European Social Fund (ESF) funded these programmes butthey require ongoing mainstream funding from the Department of Employment Affairs &Social Protection so that parents around Ireland can access them. We have been calling since the cuts in Budget 2012 for specialist supports for parents on Job-Seeker’s Transition Allowance (JST) so they can be career-ready as their children grow. While the DEASPhave helped in terms of signposting parents to our programmes, they don’t currently offer this form of targeted support. We would call on the Government and the Department to invest in targeted, measurable supports that make a tangible difference to parents’ lives, society and the economy.”



Notes to editor:

About One Family One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating.

One Family programmes:

  • New Futures is One Family’s flagship 24 week personal and professional development, specialist bridging programme accredited at QQI level 4
  • Options is an education programme accredited at QQI level 4 & 5 delivered by Ballsbridge College of Further Education
  • New Steps is an eight week parenting support and self-development programme
  • Pathways is a eight week college preparation course is for those interested in, or going into, further education.

All One Family’s programmes are specifically designed for those parenting alone or sharing parenting and incorporate 1:1 and wrap around family support services.

Key statistics from the One Family’s Annual Review 2017:

  • 16policy submissions over 72 representations
  • 75,000visitors accessed information on
  • over 4,100 queries received by askonefamily national helpline
  • 1 in 5 callers were specifically related to the One-Parent Family Payment
  • 25% of contacts had legal queries, mostly about access and maintenance
  • 1 in 3 calls were for listening support and lasted between 30 minutes to one hour
  • 20% of calls came from Dads.

Statistics on one-parent families:

  • There were 218,817 family units with children (of any age) headed by a lone parent (Census 2016).
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family.
  • 1 in 5 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2016).
  • 356,203 children lived in one-parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units.

Link to One Family Annual Review 2017:                                     For further information, visit


Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Valerie Maher, Programmes Manager

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

The New Futures project is part supported by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020