Conference told of jobs crisis among Irish youth

FÁS AND the Department of Social Protection are ill-equipped to deal with the youth unemployment crisis, a youth representative told a conference yesterday.

James Doorley, assistant director of the National Youth Council of Ireland, said the Republic cannot afford to repeat mistakes of the 1980s with regard to long-term unemployment.

“Unfortunately the public employment service – which includes Fás and the Department of Social Protection – needs urgent reform as it is ill-equipped to deal with this crisis and to meet the needs . . . of new ‘jobseekers’ who are better qualified than previous generations but require more guidance and support .”

The conference was also told the State must do more to help young people make the transition from school to the workplace.

Anne Sonnet of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said the short-term employment outlook is gloomy for young people here.

“In the first quarter of 2011, the 15-24 unemployment rate in Ireland was 31 per cent and 46 per cent – much more than the OECD averages of 20 per cent and 27 per cent respectively.

Ms Sonnet raised several questions about the youth unemployment crisis in Ireland.

“In relation to education and training, are the recent reforms effective in tackling school drops-out and education, employment and training groups? Are the recent changes to the labour market well-targeted to disadvantaged youth? Are the long trial periods – 12 months in Ireland compared with six months in Germany – a stepping stone for a firm foothold in the labour market? Are the training requirements associated with sub-minimum wage rates for youth well-enforced?”

OECD research indicates, she said, how policies that promote growth are vital to give the young a fair chance in the world of work.

The Conference, Building Quality Jobs in the Recovery is being held in Dublin Castle.

It is being organised in conjunction with the Irish Departments of Environment, Community and Local Government, Social Protection; Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Children and Youth Affairs with the support of Pobal.

FORUM FACTS: MAIN POINTS

Ensuring young people acquire basic foundation skills and leave education with the skills that are required by employers and needed for life-long learning.

Tailoring training programmes to local or national labour market needs and including classroom instruction, on the job training and adult mentoring.

Using employment protection regulations, social security programmes and minimum wages to prevent the exploitation of young people in low-paid, precarious jobs.

 

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