Young, largely unskilled men are the hardest hit and in places like Limerick two-thirds of youths aged 16 to 24 are neither at work, in training or education.
The spiral of unemployment in the country’s towns and cities is in danger of creating massive social problems for the future and a lost generation.
Labour MEP Nessa Childers said: “This report proves the need for specific, targeted action to help young unemployed.
“In Ireland we especially need to help male, early school-leavers who are most likely to be unemployed,” she said.
“Local businesses should be supported in job creation, and the promised EU growth investment must involve Europe-wide action to identify those young people most in need.”
Ireland now has one of the biggest youth unemployment rates in the EU, at around 30%, according to the latest figures which place the country fifth at 14.6%.
This is despite emigration of more than 70,000 last year — 90% of them considered prime age members of the workforce who brought their skills elsewhere.
Even though traineeships and apprenticeships have been pinpointed as an essential way of enhancing the employment prospects for young people, Ireland’s record to date has been dismal, according to an EU report. A detailed analysis of how apprenticeships and traineeships operate in the EU and how they could improve shows a lot of potential according to EU Employment Commissioner László Andor.
The section dealing with Ireland painted a very mixed picture, showing we have one of the lowest take-ups of vocational education, with the vast majority of students taking academic courses.
More than 7,400 of those laid off in 2010 were young apprentices who had to emigrate in the hope of finishing their apprenticeships.
Some of the abuses of trainees in schemes such as the Fás-operated JobBridge include using trainees to replace full-time, real jobs rather than offering training.
In other cases the working conditions are poor, with long hours, heavy workload, no sick or holiday pay and being asked to do jobs that are irrelevant to their learning needs.
Ireland was also criticised for relying too much on multinationals.
The latest Eurostat figures show unemployment in the euro area was 11.1% in May, up slightly from April. Youth unemployment in both Greece and Spain is now over 52%.