FG aims state-backed job schemes at under-25s

FINE GAEL has proposed a series of state-supported job initiatives for young people in an attempt to target the 83,000 people under the age of 25 who are out of work.

The party criticised the Government’s approach to youth unemployment and said the low uptake in the headline schemes announced since the downturn were a lost opportunity.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said a significant amount of the €5bn budget for social welfare payments should be spent on job creation for 30,800 young people.

He also suggested that, with additional investment, the Government could greatly improve the options for young people who cannot find jobs.

“By these proposals here we can reduce by over one third the number of under-25s on the unemployment list at the moment.”

The party’s plan is based on a carrot-and-stick approach which will offer placements to people who take up places and punish those who ignore opportunities.

The scheme would include the following strands:

n 8,666 would be taken off the live register with an internship programme in both the civil service and private/voluntary sectors. Each participant would receive a €3,000 training grant and split their time between work and studies for a master’s degree.

nA commitment to share the costs of employing 10,000 workers with struggling private employers. The party said this proved effective, but expensive, in Germany and would be a short-term stimulus measure to ensure people who would otherwise be made redundant could be retained for 75% of the former salary.

nA revised back-to-education strategy which would pay €11,670 to unemployed young people with low education levels to return to the classroom.

nA promise to use state construction projects to help apprentices left stranded during to recession to complete their training.

Fine Gael’s Enterprise spokesman Leo Varadkar said half the budget deficit was due to unemployment, and simply handing out welfare without training was not appropriate. In particular, the work-share programme, which would cost €7,000 per participant, was a far more suitable way to support employment during the recession.

“That is a way we can definitely save some of those 72,000 jobs the Government says we are going to lose next. We don’t have to give up on all those jobs; some of them can be saved through this process.”

The party would subsidise the €610m cost of the scheme with a cut in dole payments for young people who refuse training options. Deputy Varadkar said €50 would be taken off the payments for young people who spent six months claiming unemployment without accepting an alternative place.

Fine Gael would also redirect €200m from its proposed carbon tax and windfall tax on electricity power stations.


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