A group representing young people has called for an investment of €191 million in the pending July Jobs Initiative to aid youth employment in the wake of Covid-19.
The call from the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) came in the light of an analysis of figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showing that just under a quarter of all recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) are aged between 18 and 25.
The relief payment, which has been in place since early March, is now expected to remain live until at least the end of the year.
The July Jobs Initiative is set to be announced next week, with Taoiseach Micheál Martin previously confirming a “sizeable package” aimed at achieving quick results separate from any measures to come in October’s budget. Young people will be especially targeted by the pending stimulus.
The CSO numbers suggest youth unemployment in Ireland stood at 45.4% in June, with 89,544 of the total 413,039 in receipt of the PUP at the time aged under 25.
Sligo and Donegal represent the worst-hit areas across the country, with 24% of their figures comprising youth workers.
In Cork, 23% - 9,585 - of the 41,300 people in receipt of PUP as at July 5 were aged between 18 and 25.
The NYCI’s deputy director James Doorley said its suggested €191 million stimulus package would incorporate education allowances, training, apprenticeships, and employer-incentivisation with regard to the hiring of youth labour.
“Further investment and actions will be required later this year, in light of the scale of the challenge, but we need to make a start now and give young people some hope and support,” he said.
Even before the pandemic hit, youth unemployment had stood at three times the overall rate at 12.6%.
The number of youth workers receiving the PUP has fallen by 32,000 since early May. However, the NYCI warned that the figure for those still in receipt of the payment is stark.
“As a society and an economy, we cannot afford to make the mistakes of the past, where young people were left to linger on the dole queues for years on end and the Governmental response was slow and inadequate,” Mr Doorley said.
He said the €191 million suggested by the youth council “may appear a large sum”, but said that the investment in youth programmes such as Jobsplus Youth would support up to 28,000 young people.
“The cost of leaving 28,000 young people on the dole for a year would be €164 million, so the net cost of the measures we are proposing would be just €27 million,” he said, adding that the figure itself does not factor in “the social and financial benefit of the proposed measures”.
The NCYI’s proposals would see €106 million spent on creating additional training programmes for 16,000 of those young and unemployed, together with €52.7 million on creating 5,000 places within the Back to Education Allowance and €22.4 million on 5,000 extra spots within JobsPlus Youth.
“While the current costs of borrowing money are low, these funds will have to be paid back overtime,” Mr Doorley said, adding that young people as future taxpayers will end up repaying the largest chunk of that investment.
“It is only fair they should also benefit proportionately from these funds to restart the economy,” he added.