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EDITORIAL: Long-term youth unemployment

July 16th, 2017 11:40 PM

By Southern Star Team

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EVEN though job creation has continued to increase, bringing the percentages of unemployed people on the Live Register down from 15.2% at the depth of the economic downturn to 6.3% at the end of June, one worrying aspect of the figures is the number of young people who are long-term unemployed, which stands at over 11,000 nationally. In percentage terms that is 11.9%, which is almost double the seasonally-adjusted overall rate and the ongoing slower rate of decrease in youth unemployment is a cause for concern.

This has been highlighted by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), citing new data from the Department of Social Protection showing that the number of young people under 26 in Cork in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance or Benefit for six months or more is 1,348.

According to NYCI deputy director James Doorley, in 2013, the government committed to the implementation of the EU Youth Guarantee Programme in Ireland, which guarantees a work, education or training opportunity to any young person unemployed for four months or more: ‘Yet four years on, despite the improving economy and labour market, we still have too many young people out of work.' 

He wants the government to be more ambitious in tackling long-term unemployment, particularly among young people, and the NYCI has proposed quite a commendable action plan that should be given serious consideration. It involves an additional investment of €47.4m gross in Budget 2018 to reduce the number of young people long-term unemployed by the end of next year. By getting 6,000 young people into employment, there would be a saving of €33.4m per annum, so the nett cost of this investment would be €14m. 

As Mr Doorley said, in support of this proposal, ‘the social, economic and community benefit of having over 6,000 more young people in gainful employment is incalculable.' It would also more than halve the number of long-term unemployed young people.

While it is just one of the many submissions to be considered for Budget 2018, it should be of interest to and resonate with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, as a former Minister for Social Protection, given the worthwhile dividends it would generate in so many respects. 

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