The National Youth Council of Ireland has called for a €30 million package to tackle the high rate of youth unemployment after EU figures showed almost a fifth of young Irish people are not in education, work or training.
The NYCI, which represents youth organisations working with more than 380,000 young people nationwide, cited the latest data from the EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat, which shows the percentage of young people in Ireland aged 20 to 24 who are exclusively in employment in 2015 has plummeted from 54.6% in 2006 to 37.8% last year.
The figures also show that the number of young people not in education, employment or training was almost a fifth at 19.7% compared to 11.9% in 2006.
As part of its pre-budget submission published yesterday, the NYCI urged the Government to incentivise education, training and work experience for young people by reversing the cuts in payments to people on these schemes.
“While youth unemployment has declined from the crisis levels of the 2009 to 2013 period, the most recent figures indicate that we have almost 40,000 young people on the live register — of whom 16,000 have been on the register for one year or more,” NYCI deputy director, James Doorley, said.
He called for a €30m investment in a new Youth Guarantee scheme to tackle the problem: “First, we are calling on the Government to review, reboot and invest in the Youth Guarantee. In 2014, the government committed to the introduction of the guarantee of an education, training or work experience place for any young person who is unemployed for four months or more. To date the implementation of this has been found wanting.”
He said the money should be focused on the more than 16,000 young people on the live register for 12 months or more, and with the overall aim of getting the rate of youth unemployment down to 8-9% by the end of 2017.
He also called for a reverse in funding cuts for those on training and work experience.
“The training allowance for young people participating on VTOS, Youthreach, Community Training Centre Programmes and other SOLAS training has been reduced from €188 per week to €160 per week,” he said.
“From January 2014, the payment to those participating on the Back to Education Allowance Programme has been cut to €160 per week. JobBridge interns who were on €100 prior to participation receive €152.50 per week while working between 35 to 40 hours a week.
As a first step to reversing all the welfare cuts on young people, we are proposing that those on education, training and work experience programmes currently on reduced rates should have their payments set at the minimum adult rate of €188 per week.”
He said NYCI’s proposals would reduce the rates of financial hardship facing young jobseekers and would also provide an additional incentive for them to participate in education, training and work experience opportunities.
“Without political action and further investment it is unlikely that these numbers will reduce significantly,” he said.
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