'287 Waterford young people long-term unemployed need support from Government'

National Youth Council of Ireland publishes Pre-Budget Submission with costed measures to support young people

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The number of young people under 26 years of age that are in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance, jobseeker’s benefit or signing for credits for 12 months or more in County Waterford is 287, according to new figures from Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) Deputy Director, James Doorley, wants measures to be put in place to support the almost 9,000 young people long-term unemployed in Ireland.  He wants development of, and investment in, an ‘access apprenticeships programme’ to support young people with fewer opportunities and qualifications.

The organisation’s Pre-Budget 2019 submission ‘Future Proof with Investment in Youth’ is calling for an investment of €22 million in the education, training and access to apprenticeships to halve long-term youth unemployment by the end of 2019.

“Census 2016 indicates that our population aged 10-24 years will increase to over one million by 2025, so we need to invest in policies, services and supports to meet the needs of young people today, while preparing for demographic pressures in the coming years.

“While we welcome job growth in the Irish economy and the consistent trend of reduced youth unemployment, we are concerned about the 8,915 young people who are now long-term unemployed. We have costed a number of measures to help reduce this figure by half in 2019,”  he continues.

James Doorley wants measures to be put in place to support unemployed young people. 

€2m for access to apprenticeships

“Among these measures, we are proposing that €2m is invested in an access to apprenticeship programme. We welcome the growth in apprenticeships in the last number of years. The number of apprentices in training in 2017 was 12,849, up from 10,445 in 2016, driven by a 53% increase in the number of new entrants between 2015 and 2017. And we support the overall Government commitment to double the number of new entrants by 2020 to 9,000 per annum with the introduction of a range of new apprenticeships including in areas such as animation, horticulture and healthcare.

“As we expand the number and range of apprenticeships, however, it is vital that these opportunities remain open to all young people, in particular young people who are economically and socially disadvantaged and those who have limited formal qualifications.

“We propose the expansion of the existing pilot programmes such as the DIT ‘Access to Apprenticeship’ programme and the development of other schemes around the country to provide supports and address barriers, which may prevent disadvantaged young people from opting for and being able to sustain an apprenticeship, with a particular focus on the long term unemployed.

“For example, the entrance criteria for some apprenticeships now require qualifications to a certain level in some subjects. Where a young person has the motivation and aptitude for a trade but cannot meet these entrance criteria, an access programme can assist the young applicant to meet the entry requirements. Likewise, such access programmes could promote the greater participation of young women in apprenticeships, which is very low at present at just over 1%.

“The Government rightly spends over €31m supporting access to Higher Education, therefore we believe our proposal is a modest yet necessary measure to assist young people with fewer opportunities to avail of the growing number of apprenticeships available at present. This €2m investment would be part of the overall €22m additional investment in Budget 2019 which NYCI recommends in order to halve the number of young people long-term unemployed by the end of 2019. We propose the provision of an additional 2,650 education and training places which will cost €20m based on the average cost of a SOLAS training placeof €7,578,” he says.

Net cost only €6m

“€22 million is the gross cost, as this investment would lead to reduced social welfare payments as more young people move into employment. For example, if we assume 50% or there were 2,650 fewer young people on €107.70, the lowest rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance, this would save just over €14m per annum, so the estimated net cost would be €6m,” concludes Mr Doorley.

Alongside access to apprenticeships, the NYCI Pre-Budget 2019 submission details a range of costed measures and calls for action on enhancing youth work services, halving long term youth unemployment, equality for young jobseekers and working to end youth homelessness.