Monday 15 April 2013

Green Party Endorses Call For ‘Youth Guarantee’ To Tackle Unemployment In Young People In Northern Ireland

The Green party has backed proposals for a ‘Youth Guarantee’ scheme to tackle growing youth unemployment in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland has a headline rate of 23% youth unemployment, the highest of any region in the UK, though lower than in the Republic.

The call for a ‘Youth Guarantee’, along with other policies to address the unemployment crisis in Northern Ireland, has been made in a recently launched paper from the Nevin Economic Research Institute.

Speaking after attending the launch of the Quarterly Economic Observer report on the Northern Ireland economy, North Down Green Party Councillor Dr John Barry said: “I congratulate the authors of this report who offer a fresh perspective on analysing our economy, identifying its weaknesses and providing evidence-based solutions.

“The proposal in this report for a Youth Guarantee scheme is very welcome as the aim of such a scheme is to reduce the time young people spend in unemployment and inactivity.

“Such a scheme would provide relevant training, work experience or paid employment for every young person unable to find work, or additional employment opportunities to the person through ‘on the job’ training or to community employment in the social economy.

“In relation to youth unemployment, the report rightly highlights the fact that young people (18-24) have been particularly negatively affected by the recessions.

“Unemployment amongst this section of our community continues to rise to dangerous levels.

“What is particularly worrying is that despite young people emigrating in greater numbers (not least amongst those with qualifications and degrees, representing a great loss to NI), we still see youth unemployment rising.

“The Green Party welcomes and supports the proposal for focused and targeted action to prevent long-term youth unemployment and to reconnect with young people who have become detached from the labour market.

“The report highlights a particular of cyclical unemployment due to the recession becoming long-term structural unemployment amongst young people.

“One of the most startling findings of the report is that based on international evidence the cost of youth unemployment in Northern Ireland could be in the region of £300 million.

“If we are to seriously tackle the escalating problem of youth unemployment there needs to be a strong emphasis on and provision of, literacy, numeracy and ICT skills for trainees.

“There also needs to be better coordination of employment and training services, including cooperation with local based social economy projects and the community and voluntary sectors”.

“However, the NERI report also makes a compelling case that it is vital that any Youth Guarantee scheme avoid the provision of low-quality work experience which adds little by way of skills and useful experience to individuals.

“It also needs to explicitly ensure it is not replacing or displacing older workers by young trainees at lower wages.

“The Green Party welcomes the report’s clear view that any Youth Guarantee scheme should not use compulsion to force young people off benefits if they do not accept a job offer or training place.

Concluding, Cllr Barry said: “Evidence from both Sweden and Finland which have a Youth Guarantee scheme is encouraging in terms of its effectiveness.

“The Youth Guarantee is something the NI Executive and especially those department with most direct responsibility for youth employment – DETI, DEL and OFMDFM – need to explore urgently.

“This report from the Nevin Economic Research Institute is an excellent place to start”.

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