Youth Employment: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Jonathan O'Brien on Tuesday, 19 November 2013:
That Dáil Éireann:
notes that:
— our young people want to work and contribute but are starved of the opportunity of quality employment;
— 64,700 young people are officially unemployed;
— the unemployment rate for persons aged under 25 is almost 30%;
— many thousands more are not in employment, training or education but not captured in the official statistics;
— the number of young people in employment has fallen by 18,000 since Fine Gael and the Labour Party took office;
— since 2010, 105,000 young people have emigrated;
— under the Government the rate of overall emigration and net outward migration has increased;
— budget 2014 only provides an additional €14 million for the youth guarantee scheme; and
— according to the National Youth Council of Ireland, budget 2014 will, at best, provide 3,250 new labour activation places for persons aged under 25;
and calls on the Government to:
— adequately fund a youth guarantee scheme that provides all young people with a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed;
— allocate €400 million for this purpose, as recommended by the National Youth Council of Ireland and the International Labour Organization funding model;
— make youth employment a key priority and theme for the Action Plan for Jobs 2014;
— set annual targets for youth employment and reduction in emigration; and
— reverse the cuts to the basic rate of jobseeker’s allowance for persons aged under 26 years that were introduced in budget 2014.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“notes that:
- the number of people in employment grew by 34,000 in the year ending June 2013, compared with a reduction of employment of more than 300,000 in the three year period ending March 2011;
- the rate of unemployment in Ireland has fallen to 13.2% at the end of October 2013, down from a peak of over 15% in early 2012;
- the number of people unemployed, seasonally adjusted, at the end of the second quarter of 2013 is 296,000, down 22,000 on the first quarter of 2012;
- the number of unemployed young people aged under 25, seasonally adjusted, has fallen to 60,000, a reduction of 20,000 since it peaked in 2009;
- the seasonally adjusted rate of unemployment for young people has fallen to 28% in recent months, down from a peak of over 31% in early 2012;
- notwithstanding these positive developments, unemployment, and in particular youth unemployment, remains a serious concern;
- the Government:
- has prioritised actions to stimulate employment creation and reduce unemployment under the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work strategies; economic recovery and employment creation resulting from these policies will be the surest way to improve the unemployment situation, both overall and for young people;
- prioritised youth unemployment as an issue to be addressed at European Union level, leading to agreement, under Ireland’s Presidency, of a Council recommendation for a youth guarantee; this recommendation calls on member states to guarantee each unemployed young person under the age of 25 a job, training or education opportunity within four months of registering as unemployed; and
- is preparing a plan for the implementation of the recommendation commencing in 2014; the plan will build on the existing large-scale provision of training, education and work experience places for unemployed young people, and will be transmitted to the European Commission by the end of 2013;
- the cost of the existing provision for unemployed young people is substantial – estimated to have been at least €170 million in 2012 – and expanded provision will be required; initial provisions totalling €46 million have been made across several Government Departments in budget 2014;
- in this context, it is to be welcomed that Ireland is likely to receive supporting funding from the EU, under the Youth Employment Initiative and the European Social Fund, of approximately €60 million in respect of each of the years 2014 and 2015; and
agrees that:
- the continuing growth in employment and the reduction in unemployment are to be welcomed;
- the Government should continue in its efforts to further increase employment and reduce unemployment, with a particular and urgent focus on youth unemployment;
and
- the implementation in Ireland of the youth guarantee, agreed under Ireland’s Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, should form a pivotal part of the Government’s response to the challenge of youth unemployment.
- (Minister for Social Protection)

The story of young people in this country and their abuse by this Government, and the last one for that matter, is the flip side of the coin of the mirage the Government has tried to conjure up about the so-called exit from the so-called bailout. We are not exiting anything and we were never bailed out in the first place. The human reality of that is vicious, vindictive attacks on the least well off in our society, the old, the sick and, of course, the young, as this motion highlights. It is sickening that this Government compounds the insult to young people. It is unable to provide meaningful, well-paid employment for energetic, educated young people who desperately want to work and contribute to our society. All this Government can do is kick them when they are down by cutting their social welfare in order to try to dragoon them into scam jobs in which they can be exploited by unscrupulous employers - or, with the Government's new Gateway project, by local authorities. The aim is to create a pool of cheap labour that can be exploited. Thus, the people who are the victims of this crisis become double victims, denied meaningful employment and then brutally exploited because of the conditions that the Government, the financial elites, the bankers and bondholders have created for them. What puts the lie to the Government's claim that these measures are to activate young people, who apparently have no desire, according to the Government, to find meaningful work, is the fact that hundreds of thousands of young people are streaming out of the country. If they need to be activated, how come they are showing the energy to leave the country? Is it because they want to laze about and do nothing?

No, it is because they want work elsewhere that the Government is unable to provide for them here. It sees young people as another group on which to unload the cost of the recession and it is using the atmosphere of recession to exploit young workers and to ratchet down pay and conditions for them. It is an absolute disgrace and I hope that simmering agitation among young people through the We're Not Leaving campaign and the youth assembly will make the Government rue the day it picked on Ireland's young people.

Despite commitments and promises during the general election campaign in 2011, the Government parties are continuing to pursue the programme of the Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government that preceded them. They were elected on a platform of ensuring the least well off and ordinary families across the State would be protected. They have reneged on that commitment and they are now targeting them for austerity while wealthy people get away scot free. During the lifetime of the Government, approximately 18,000 young people have lost jobs, 30% are unemployed and more than 100,000 have left the country. They are being targeted in a recession that they had no hand, act nor part in creating. For instance, we all recall the high profile commitments given by the Labour Party about third level fees in the general election campaign, on which it has reneged. The back to education schemes have been cut and this is seriously undermining the potential for young people to return to education. Fees were introduced in budget 2014 for the first time for apprentices on block release while significant cuts were made to the jobseeker's allowance for those aged under 26. This will force them out of the country to work in Canada, Australia and elsewhere. They have shown that they are not lazy and they are willing to work but, unfortunately, they are being forced out of the country to work in other economies.

I thank Sinn Féin for tabling the motion. It is only right and proper that we focus our attention on this group. Nationally, 30% of young people are unemployed but the percentage is higher in, for example, Donegal and Limerick, where it approaches 50%. There is plenty of research to show that when people experience unemployment early in their lives, they are likely to experience it again later in life. It is, therefore, an issue of major significance.

The cuts in the jobseeker's allowance for those aged under 26 will impact on 20,853 people next year according to the National Youth Council. That does not give us the full picture because many young people do not show up on the live register because their families marginally exceed the income threshold for welfare payments and they are simply not counted. Only one in seven of them will be able to access the additional 3,250 training places offered by the Government and, therefore, the opportunities Ministers keep talking about will not be created for every young person.

A fund of €8 billion has been allocated Europe wide to fund the youth unemployment scheme and while that is welcome and the money that will be provided in Ireland is welcome, to put it in context, the Government will spend the same amount in one year just to service the national debt. That is the amount being invested to tackle this unemployment crisis among young people. The unemployment rate among this cohort throughout Europe averages 23% but that increases to 60% in Spain and Greece and 40% in Italy, Portugal and Slovakia. It is a drop in the ocean for those to whom we pay lip service by saying they are our future. If so, there needs to be greater investment in them.

The position taken by the Government regarding young people is an unusual one for any state to take given one would think all governments would have an eye on the future. The manner in which young people are being dealt with in this State does not show the Government has an eye to the future. They are faced with unemployment, under employment and insecure employment. If anything else, the crisis has been an opportunity for some people to undermine employment conditions that were built up over the years. It is easier to hire and fire people and wages have been driven down. There is a serious lack of opportunity for young people to work given the dramatic falls in consumption and investment. It is unusual that youth unemployment has been so severe during this recession but austerity has a greater impact on young people than on those who are older, which is peculiar.

Training schemes and apprenticeships are a good idea but they should not be used to drive down wages for others or to replace jobs with decent wages. Given that all the young people who cannot get work are expected to pick up €100 a week on social welfare or €150 a week on the JobBridge scheme, their choice is emigration, if they are not in education or training, or poverty. When the country recovers, this will leave a mark for a long time. We will experience the effects of what the Government is doing to this generation in ten years' time.

I am glad there is concern on both sides of the House about youth unemployment. However, we cannot forget about or lessen the impact on those in other age groups who find themselves without a job. Unemployment does not discriminate on age grounds and it is equally difficult and challenging to any person who finds himself or herself in this dilemma. The challenge for us as policymakers is to create the environment in which business can flourish and jobs will follow. I know this because I have created jobs. I have been in business through hard times but I have created jobs for 20 years. It is straightforward but one needs to have the right environment to make it happen. Strange as it may seem, during the false boom in Ireland when we were all essentially at full employment, it was a difficult place for employers such as myself and people will wonder why this was so.

Employees, particularly the younger ones, knew nothing else but full employment. Many of them, especially those in the non-professional areas where we see the worst effects, took a relaxed view towards their career paths. One could pick and choose a job, coming and going with relative ease. Travelling the world for a period to find oneself became commonplace. I lost employees to this which was a pity and disappointing when one considers the time and effort put in training them. Job-hopping where people jumped from one employer to another for an extra euro an hour or some other false promise became the norm. In the long run, it did no good for the employees or the businesses. In short, bad practices were allowed to develop in the so-called good times which have become a challenge for us to rectify in the so-called bad times. A former teacher of mine, the late Walter Cleary, used to tell us that when times are good, one should never allow people to get sloppy in time-keeping for work. In short, one could pay them extra but one should never allow bad work practices develop.

As an employer, I have always viewed it as a positive sign if a company has long-standing staff. It means the company has a wealth of experience and service, along with good consistent training given to newer recruits. The significant turnover of staff during the boom years was very frustrating for me as an employer, especially as one needs experienced staff in complex work areas and who also help with training new recruits.

We need to distinguish between the positive aspects of available credit and the fall in work practices. This has changed, although it has taken some time. This is a great time for small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, similar to mine, to build committed and loyal workforces. Schemes such as JobsPlus and JobBridge, of which I will avail, are a huge plus to SMEs and to many of the young people involved. It is hoped they will get permanent and long-term employment as a result.

Last year, the number of people in employment grew by 34,000. It is a good start when one considers the economic meltdown before it. Recognition of the problem of youth unemployment across the EU is welcome. The youth employment initiative, with the commitment from the European Social Fund, is a positive development. The whole issue, however, is down to job creation.

We are in the process of sorting out the banks and I recognise the work done in this area. Many people in the banks get a terrible time and we need to recognise their work and commitment in sorting out the problem. They are not the ones who created the problems in the first place. The banks are lending again but forced lending so as to reach arbitrary targets is certainly not the road we want to take as it will lead to the same mistakes from the past a second time.

One cannot display one’s talents by sitting inside four walls. While the argument in this motion is that we are not paying enough to those under 26 who are unemployed, we need to get the message out that they need to be encouraged to get back into the workplace and training. By doing so, they will get the opportunity to shine which will lead to full employment.

Who is sitting inside four walls?

We need to get young people into employment. Using local enterprise offices to focus on the entrepreneurial spirit is the way forward. Our highly educated workforce will see jobs and the positive aspects of our policies will shine through.

The scale and rapid nature of the implosion of jobs after the economic crash was staggering. When one considers that in March 2011, there were 300,000 fewer people working than there in 2008, it is hard to comprehend the difficulty and misery that lies behind that number. In a reducing jobs market, there will always be an oversupply of talented and experienced people to take the few available jobs that do come up, shutting off the job opportunities for new talented people entering the jobs market. By 2009, there were 80,000 young people under 25 out of work. Thankfully, this figure has now dropped to 60,000, a significant drop. Behind that statistic, however, there lie 60,000 individual stories.

The Government has focused sharply on reducing that stark number as quickly as possible to ensure these people’s lives are not blighted by a lack of opportunity which resulted in an economic crash beyond their control. At 38%, the seasonally adjusted rate of unemployment among young people is still much too high. This is why the Government must continue to stimulate employment creation and prioritise youth employment at European national and regional level. One area the Government should examine further is offering the long-term unemployed the opportunity to upskill in areas where we know there are job opportunities waiting. When one considers the cost of providing a third level grant to someone to stud software engineering or biotechnology versus the cost of providing unemployment assistance, one will see it would be money well spent. I accept such courses would not suit all the unemployed. However, if 5,000 young people were targeted for such upskilling, it would represent one in 12 of those under 25 who is unemployed.

Research is needed into college dropout levels and the reasons behind such decisions. Was the decision made for education, health or income reasons? It is a tragedy young people have to drop out of college because their families cannot support them. This is according to stories I hear weekly from distressed constituents. Families whose only income is social welfare will qualify for the special rate of grant for third level courses. The difficulties I have encountered in my clinics in County Galway relate to parents who may have one day of work per week which puts them over the income threshold for the special rate, putting college out of the reach of their adult children.

It is only through rising employment levels across the economy, a development which I believe is under way, that youth unemployment can be reduced. Far too many parents are waving goodbye to their children, fearful their grandchildren will grow up on faraway continents. We must live up to the promise of the youth guarantee scheme and ensure those young unemployed people are offered real opportunities to progress into employment or continued education.

I thank Sinn Féin for putting down this motion as it gives Members on the government side an opportunity to highlight the positive actions taken by the Government since it came into office. While youth unemployment is unacceptably high at 30%, it is starting to fall, a welcome development. In the North of Ireland where Sinn Féin is in power, unemployment is rising with almost 24,000 young people out of work. Up to 25,000 people emigrated from the North of Ireland in 2012.

It is still not as high as it is here.

It is easy to see why they are emigrating when unemployment is rising so rapidly there. Would Sinn Féin like the Government here to have a similar policy in the North of Ireland where young adults are paid only £67 per week? Would it implement that policy if it ever came into power here?

When I had just qualified, I was unemployed for a while. However, at the time, there was nothing for me such as schemes, work programmes or Pathways to Work. Now, we have various schemes in place to assist young people find employment. I compliment the Taoiseach on his work in prioritising the youth guarantee when Ireland held the EU Presidency. It is important certain schemes are ring-fenced for people under 25 so they can get back into training programmes and can see light at the end of the tunnel. I welcome the ring-fenced funding under the microfinance scheme for young entrepreneurs as they find it difficult to access credit from the mainstream lenders.

I would like to see the social welfare system adapt a little better to take account of those people who are in short-term work or have short-term contracts in order that they can get back into long-term employment as quickly as possible. One fault with the social welfare system is that we do not receive information quickly enough on the schemes available. I ask the Minister to make sure information on such schemes is made available as quickly as possible for young people in order that they know what is available for them.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this very important Private Members' motion. We must acknowledge that we have a very significant unemployment problem in comparison to most northern European countries and North America. In the past few months unemployment and youth unemployment, in particular, have been falling. One issue on which the House should engage more is that of migration within the European Union. To date, we have had a rather simplistic dialogue between the Government and the Opposition about the 2 million job vacancies in Europe. Around ten years ago we in Ireland were actively looking at importing people to work here. The key worry for parents and young people about leaving the country to work abroad is the sense that they will not be able to return at some point in the future. We need to focus on the European labour market in more joined-up terms with respect to pension mobility in order that when people leave Ireland to work, they can return and pick up benefits, which is largely not the case. There is also a need for greater harmonisation of skill sets and qualifications across a broad range of areas.

I accept that the youth guarantee is a good measure, but, ultimately, employment is fed by growth which is a macroeconomic factor. Until the European Central Bank's functions like those of the Federal Reserve in the United States which have an absolute link with unemployment in America, as opposed to monetary policy only which is largely the remit of the Central Bank, we will be playing catch-up. We had representatives of the Commission at the Joint Committee on European Affairs today and the committee was the first among all EU member states to meet them to discuss how social policy would be integrated within a European monetary policy. That is a step towards focusing on unemployment as a key economic indicator, as is done in the United States of America.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for giving me the opportunity to make a contribution on this important subject. I am satisfied that the Government is making every effort with the jobs initiative which was one of the points in our five point plan before the last general election. All of our young people need the Government to deliver the opportunity that many of them deserve and for which they are longing. I am talking about those young people who are talented, skilled, well educated and enthusiastic. Many of the issues that affect young people, particularly health related issues, including mental health issues, addiction and even anti-social behaviour, can originate from a sense of hopelessness and even the boredom that often sets in. As has been said before, the figures remain far too high.

During our very successful Presidency of the European Union, I was particularly pleased when the Taoiseach prioritised and committed to youth job creation. Within a very short time the country is on the up and investing in our youth will deliver tenfold. A job, just like education, should not just be an ambition but also an entitlement. In her opening remarks the Minister indicated that there was evidence of a significant decrease in youth unemployment, even within the past two years. This should be recognised, particularly when we consider what we inherited just two and a half years ago. We were left a broken economy, with only five months of money left in the kitty. One can only imagine what would have happened if we had continued on the same pathway set out for us by Fianna Fáil - again, not even one of its Members is present for this debate - and the consequences that would have had for the youth of the country, as well as for pensioners, widows and widowers, those who were unemployed and children's allowance payments. We have made considerable progress in such a short space of time. A young person who has a job is in a much better and a much healthier position to deal with the pressures we face in modern day society in Ireland.

I congratulate the Minister on the progress made in a short space of time. I wish her well in the remaining term of this Dáil.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the important issue of youth unemployment. While I accept that there are still far too many young people out of work in Ireland, it is clear that we are heading in the right direction in reducing the numbers on the live register. Employment grew last year by 34,000 and, on average, 3,000 jobs are now being created a month. That is clear evidence that progress is being made. I have listened to Sinn Féin and others in the Opposition repeatedly ridicule the effectiveness of employment activation schemes such as JobBridge. This is very disappointing because we should be trying to encourage young people who are out of work to engage in schemes such as these.

Earlier this year, as part of the Government's Momentum initiative, the WebActivate programme was launched in County Monaghan. I was genuinely delighted by the huge level of interest expressed locally by young people in taking part. It is an excellent programme which lasts for eight months and, when completed, jobseekers will be skilled in web publishing and digital marketing and have other web-based skills. I know that the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, met those taking part in the programme when she visited County Monaghan earlier this year. I know that the scheme works because I was speaking to a young man only yesterday who had gained employment as a result of the initiative.

In the area of labour activation I would like to see steps being taken to incentivise employers to take on young people in an apprenticeship role. There are still young people who do not want to go on to further education when they complete the leaving certificate examination and the danger is that they will enter a cycle of relying on social welfare which can be very difficult to escape. If young people could be allowed to retain a payment for their first year in work under an apprenticeship scheme and thereafter State support could be reduced incrementally, this would help to encourage young people to take up employment and avail of training, which would help to foster a work ethic. It is good for a young person's mental health to get out to work and learn new skills. Under such a system, local employers would liaise with local schools and identify either early school leavers or those who would not progress to third level education and provide opportunities through an apprenticeship programme in order that they could be supported before they became unemployed. While I welcome the JobsPlus scheme as an incentive for employers, we need a scheme specifically targeted to make it attractive for businesses to take on young people at risk of falling into the NEETs category; not in employment, not in education and not in training. There are some very bright young people who do not want to progress to third level education and it is important that they be supported. This idea was brought to me by a very progressive and successful local businessman in Cootehill, Mr. John Foy, who employs 50 people in his supermarket and is also the chairman of RGDATA. That is what we need. We need joined-up thinking with business people to create a range of job and training opportunities for young people.

I welcome the progress that is being made in the area of youth unemployment. I commend the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Burton on the good work she is doing on labour activation and I ask her to take on board my points regarding an incentivised scheme specifically to support businesses to employ young people who are at risk at an early age of becoming long-term unemployed.

It would be remiss of me not to talk about my own county, especially regarding the ongoing challenges of youth unemployment. While internationally we are probably experiencing a city-led recovery, places in the outermost regions such as Donegal will not be on the same path time-wise. Bright, educated and skilled people from Donegal are working all over the world but many would like to be working at home. How does one instill confidence that the future is bright in the bright, young teenagers in secondary schools in Donegal?

In the realistic corner the statistics are stark. We have the third highest number on the live register, behind Dublin and Cork. Average income is the lowest in the country. However, most of the new and emerging jobs in the IT sector can locate to remote regions as long as there is good broadband. If this is the case, why does nearly 70% of new industry locate in places where there is a critical mass of existing industry, such as Cork, Limerick, Galway and Dublin? Many will argue that research and development needs to be located near universities. However, the north west has a university in Derry and a third-level institution in Letterkenny which turns out very well-educated and skilled graduates.

Others will argue that one needs broadband. Of course one does. However, in the north west we have Project Kelvin, an extensive submarine and terrestrial cable deployment which directly connects the north west to North America and serves local and global companies. Where is the problem? Access is a barrier, but a CEO of a New York company who arrives in Dublin at 7 a.m. tomorrow can get a connecting flight to Donegal at 9.15 a.m. and be there in less than an hour. The A5 is a challenge. While it is important to note the Government's commitment of £25 million this year and £25 million next year, there must be a renewed concentration of effort in Northern Ireland to get the shovel-ready project on the way.

New industry sectors such as software and ICT solutions can locate in remote areas such as Donegal. The broadband box is ticked in the north west. We have the human resources. We have a conveyer belt of skilled workers developing new skills all over the world, some of whom would like to move back to Donegal. We have success stories with existing industries such as Primerica, United Healthcare and Zeus in Letterkenny punching way above their weight and surviving very well. There must be an extensive critique of IDA policy. Where are potential investors taken and what story are they being told? Is there a commitment to the regions?

Fáiltím roimh an deis labhartha ar an ábhar tábhachtach seo. Gabhaim buíochas le Sinn Féin as an t-ábhar seo a chur os ár gcomhair anocht. I welcome the opportunity to speak on this and commend Sinn Féin on putting this very worthwhile topic before us for debate. We can never afford to lose track of this and take our eye off the ball so I commend Sinn Féin on bringing it back into focus. This is a chance for us to put on record our different views and challenge ourselves on what we are doing about this issue.

Some 5.6 million young people in the 28 EU countries are unemployed as of September this year. That is more than one in five young people across the EU and as high as one in two in countries such as Spain and Greece. That is a tragedy by any standards and something about which none of us can afford to become complacent. Earlier in the debate austerity was mentioned several times. Austerity is blamed for all our problems, and youth unemployment is no different. Germany has one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in the EU at 7.8% and there is no more austere country and no greater supporter of austerity. The youth unemployment rate increase is almost 50% higher at 57% and Greece is one of the least austere countries, it certainly was in the last decade. We may have to review our attitude that austerity is to blame for all of this.

It is not a government's place to create jobs. One of the difficulties this economy had was struggling to cope with a bloated public service and all the jobs that were created by Government but could not be sustained by the economy during the last decade. It is a Government's job to create an environment that leads to the creation of sustainable and real jobs. For every 10,000 people who leave the live register there is a saving of €90 million to the Exchequer.

I welcome the range of initiatives this Government has created. I completely reject the criticism levelled at schemes such as JobBridge. JobBridge offers people a choice between going to work and gaining experience for €50 extra per week or remaining on the dole. Those who challenge it falsely argue that it is a choice between a real job and JobBridge, but that is not the case. The other criticism is displacement, but JobBridge is merely a work placement that lasts no more than nine months so one cannot say they are filling in and preventing a real job. Gateway is another worthy initiative.

I welcome SpunOut, the National Youth Council of Ireland, the Union of Students in Ireland and the Mandate Trade Union representatives who are in the Visitors Gallery. Fine Gael's 2011 manifesto read:

Since the recession took hold three years ago, 300,000 jobs in Ireland – 14% of the total – have been wiped out...As a result of the jobs crisis, the ESRI forecast an additional 100,000 emigrants in the next two years – a higher rate of emigration than occurred even during the depths of the recession in the 1980s.

The major party in government was highlighting that at the time but, unfortunately, since this Government has come to power the percentage of unemployed has dropped 0.9% with a further 266,000 leaving the State. In my county, Laois, unemployment has increased to 8,828 since the Government came to power. Unfortunately, 1,510 of those are under 25. In Kildare 17,425 people are unemployed with a staggering 2,753 aged under 25. A previous speaker mentioned the effects on mental health and I concur that unemployment is having a major effect. Emigration, far from slowing down, has peaked at 89,000 this year from April to April, having increased from 69,000 in 2010. This evening we had a briefing from Ciaran Staunton on the plight of the illegal Irish in the United States. That shows how people are affected by this.

JobBridge has yielded 312 internships in three years in County Laois but for the majority of those it has not led to jobs. Unfortunately, it has led to some displacement. The evidence is clear. That political direction is not working. Some Ministers may claim that people are choosing emigration as a lifestyle but that is not the case. Less than 40% of those leaving say they are leaving as a lifestyle choice. Behind each person who leaves there is a huge family story and personal story.

Despite all the talk, the Government is not providing help for young people. I meet many of these young people. They come in and out of our clinics looking for work experience and begging for jobs. They do not want to be at home sitting in front of flat-screen televisions. It is unfortunate that not only are young people caught in this trap, but that social welfare payments for young men and women under 26 were cut to €100 per week in the budget. This has had a huge effect economically, psychologically and every way for young people caught in this trap. The clear message that went out is that if young people are not happy with that, they can leave. It seems to many people that this cut is simply a means of squeezing out another cohort of young people. This is unfortunate because these are the young people we need to train and get into employment.

The budget only provided an extra €14 million for the youth guarantee. That is not nearly enough. At best, it will provide only 3,250 new labour activation places for those under 25. The National Youth Council has said that a youth guarantee would cost €400 million. Therefore, the Government has allocated less than 4% of what is required. The Government is not adequately focused on providing jobs for young people and that is the reason the youth guarantee is underfunded.

Youth employment must be made a key priority. I appeal to the Government to make it a central plank of its action plan to get young people into employment. Sinn Féin calls on the Government to leave aside the spin and the hype and to try to provide a proper youth guarantee scheme. That will require it to commit up to €400 million, as recommended by the National Youth Council and the International Labour Organization. We advocate a wealth tax and for some of that tax to be ring-fenced for a youth guarantee scheme that would ensure that young people receive an offer of gainful employment or training within four months of becoming unemployed.

I urge the Government to think again about the cut to jobseeker's allowance for those under 26. It is an outrage. Another Member classed it as discrimination. I agree. It is discrimination against these young men and women.

I recall a time in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the Irish people genuinely believed that Ireland was finally in a position to ensure that we could keep our young people here. As many of our relatives returned to make their lives here again, we believed that emigration would become a thing of the past and be banished to the realm of folk memory - to stories of uncles, sisters and cousins going to Boston or Birmingham and of tough times in the 80s. We believed that at least we would never see times like that again. We brought our young people up to expect more than we did - jobs, prosperity and a higher standard of living. We promised them the world, but how tragically wrong we were. They were let down and were betrayed. Every town and village has been hit by emigration.

Since the Government came to power, 266,000 people have left the State. It could be suggested that many of these are immigrants returning to their countries, but the number of such people does not come anywhere near the total number leaving. Irish nationals accounted for 50,900, 57.2%, of all emigrants. We are talking about levels of emigration that we have not seen since Famine times. It is young people, more than anyone, who are emigrating, and that is the reason we put forward this motion.

Of the 89,000 emigrants this year, some 34,800 were between 15 and 24 and 41,000 were between 25 and 44. These account for approximately 70% of emigrants. These are shocking and worrying statistics, but I do not believe they truly tell the full story. The Government may argue that some of those are people who want to travel and see the world. That may be true, and travel can be a marvellous thing, but let us not fool ourselves. In the case of the majority of those 89,000 we are talking about young people who had not intended to leave. These people may have spent a year or two on the dole, hunting fruitlessly for jobs or doing a handful of hours a week in menial jobs that could not provide anything near the level of income required to pay rent.

It is not only those who leave who are hurt by emigration. Communities are decimated, particularly in the west. It is very tough on parents to look at the empty space at the dinner table when they imagined it would never again come to this. My son returned recently from Australia. I am delighted to have him home, but he has not yet managed to find employment and I do not know what he is going to do. People left for various reasons, but for many of them it was as simple as this: they felt there was nothing here for them. We seem to have a Government that refuses to persuade them otherwise. It has no comprehensive youth unemployment strategy and seems to be of the view that the situation will resolve itself in good time and that if people have to leave, well, so be it. This is an appalling and complacent attitude that we will bitterly regret in years to come.

The Government will parade its youth guarantee, but in truth it is woefully inadequate. The budget only provided an additional €14 million for the youth guarantee. At best this will only provide 3,250 new labour activation places for the under 25s. The ILO has stated that a proper youth guarantee would cost us €347 million, excluding administrative costs. The National Youth Council has stated it would cost €400 million. We are a very long way from that. Apart from the youth guarantee, the Government's youth unemployment policy is simply to point to JobBridge, which is effectively forcing many young people to work for free, displacing real jobs and devaluing work.

Young people, many of whom are very qualified and capable, can end up on a merry-go-round of training courses and internships without any of these leading to high-quality employment. In fact, there is no joined-up thinking. These are only some of the many ways the Government's employment policies have indirectly affected young people. There has been a complete demolition of the community sector and a huge reduction in the number of CE schemes. These were areas in which, in times of difficulty and in areas where jobs were scarce, young people could do real, meaningful work and be paid for it.

The changes to the state pension age were deeply unjust to the elderly and particularly hard on those who do heavy physical work. They also have implications for young people, because jobs are being displaced as older people stay in the workforce longer. There is a need for action. Not so long ago, one of the State's assets was a young population and workforce. That is changing rapidly. This has implications not only for the economy but for us as a society and for these young people and their families. If we do not take action now, I am genuinely concerned about what the country will be like in decades to come.

The economic recession has had a devastating effect on people throughout the State, but I argue that those living in rural Ireland are suffering more. The social consequences of the number of young people leaving rural Ireland are having a desperate and devastating effect, not just on themselves and their immediate families but on grandparents and communities as a whole. Young people living in rural Ireland face unsurmountable obstacles, and that is the reason they are leaving in droves. They see no possibility of work. The traditional employment in the construction sector is gone and no longer exists in rural Ireland. People who work at home on a small farm can no longer supplement their incomes by working in the construction sector. That is a thing of the past.

People of my age who watched the tide of emigration in the 1980s and previously in the 1960s hoped they would never see the like again. However, the Skype generation is now with us and broken-hearted grandparents all over the country only get to see their children's children on a computer screen. I meet these people all the time in my area and every time I look at my grandchildren - I have ten of them - I feel so grateful and lucky that they are here with us. Others are not so lucky.

The figures indicate that almost 65,000 young people are unemployed, but more than 260,000 young people have left the country. Employment in the period since the Government took office has fallen by 18,000. The Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Burton, in the course of justifying the cutting of the allowances for people under 25 who are not working, suggested that they needed that incentive to take up work or training. That is a disgraceful statement. It is disgraceful to suggest that cutting the allowance and removing that money from the local economy is an incentive for people to find work.

How can one find work when it is not there? The only way young people can find work is to get on a boat or aeroplane and get out of the country.

A culture of dependency.

We have seen the queues which form in Dublin when jobs in Canada or Australia are advertised. Cutting unemployment assistance for young people is forcing emigration.

This is why they are leaving the country.

This is why it is so difficult to get into a post-leaving certificate course. Young people are crying out for training or anything which will improve their chances of employment. A youth guarantee scheme must be adequately funded and must take into account the added difficulties faced by young people living in the countryside or small towns throughout the State. Young people in rural Ireland have problems accessing education and suitable training courses. Cuts have been made to rural transport and it is not easy or cheap to travel to centres of education. In most rural areas in Ireland there is no public transport. Those who want to attend these centres must travel to the largest town in the county which in itself presents a problem.

No pressure should be put on young people to train for something in which they have no interest or for which they do not have the aptitude, but they are being forced to do so. The ambitions and choices of young people should also be taken into account, but there is a sense that one must accept an offer or one's benefits will be cut. This is wrong and people should not be penalised because of the inadequacies of the Government to provide proper jobs for young people.

If the aim of a Government is to prepare a young person for a career there is no point in cutting unemployment assistance if people discover the course they have been compelled to attend does not suit them or they are not able for it. Sinn Féin proposes spending €400 million on a youth guarantee. This is cheap at the price. It would mean real investment in our young people whose value to the country is priceless and whose departure from these shores to expend their energies, intelligence, skills and talents in other nations is a crying shame. It is an indictment not only of this Government but also of previous Governments. The Minister and the Government are at the helm now and it is up to them to ensure they provide proper funding so young people can be trained on a course for which they are able and which is suitable for them, they have good jobs to go to and they are not forced out of the country by cuts to unemployment assistance. It is an absolute disgrace.

On Tuesday one of the key people who has been effectively governing the State for the troika, István Székely, claimed the better off in Irish society have fared worst under the austerity regime. Mr. Székely is director of economic and financial affairs at the European Commission. In 2011 a UCD academic said of Mr. Székely:

There's a Hungarian university lecturer called István Székely and he's essentially the EU proconsul in Dublin. Anything the Government wants to do, they go along and they talk to him. And he's a strange guy. If he doesn't like what they're saying, he stands up and he shouts at them, and he wags his finger. It's like primary school, very odd.

What is the Deputy's source?

My point is not to make a personal attack on Mr. Székely but on what he represents and, even more important, on the subservience of this Government to what he represents.

We have just seen them off the pitch.

Here we have a most senior figure in the troika actually claiming those on higher incomes took a greater share of the austerity.

Absolute rubbish.

Can one believe it? This is in the face of mass unemployment and mass emigration, and all the contrary evidence which presents daily in all our respective constituencies, no doubt including the Minister's. The European Commission, in which this person is a most senior official, has forced the austerity agenda on people across the EU, with devastating consequences for economies and societies from Greece to Ireland to Portugal to Spain and several other locations.

What is worse is that our subservient Government has been more than content to obey the austerity diktats of the troika and, indeed, to go beyond them, by imposing hardship on the old and the young, the sick and the vulnerable, those on the margins and those struggling to survive with inflated mortgage debt and the rising cost of living. The Government has doggedly refused to make the very wealthy pay their fair share of tax. It claims this would be a tax on work. In fact Government Deputies know it would be a tax on excess, greed and the lifestyles still enjoyed by a privileged minority in the State, those the European Commission's top man here claims have been hit hardest by austerity.

In reality we know all too well it is the least well off in Irish society and those on low to middle incomes who have been hit hardest by austerity. The Sinn Féin motion focuses on one of the hardest hit sectors, our young people. EUROSTAT population figures released today show the State has the highest level of emigration in the EU. With net migration at minus 7.6 per 1,000 of population we are ahead of Lithuania, Estonia and Greece in the league table for outward migration from the State. We have the shocking rate of 30% unemployment for people under 35, and this does not include those on training schemes. This is a huge indictment of the failure of austerity, but an even greater indictment is the figure of 105,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who have emigrated since 2011. The figure for those aged between 25 to 44 who have emigrated since 2011 is 112,000. In other words, 217,000 people between the ages of 15 and 44 have emigrated over these two years.

As a Deputy representing Cavan and Monaghan in a constituency made up entirely of small towns, villages and vast rural areas I know intimately the devastation being caused to our communities by the outflow of our young people. The lifeblood is literally being drained from communities throughout the length and breadth of this country. The Government is clapping itself on the back for the so-called exit from the bailout but it prefers to ignore the exit sign over the door as our young people leave our country in droves every week.

There is clearly a concerted effort on the part of the Government to stem the tide of emigration and tackle mass unemployment among young people. The mentality behind the slashing of jobseeker's allowance for people under 25 says it all about the regard the Fine Gael and Labour Party Government has for our young people. Like many Governments before it, as far as it is concerned the more that leave the better because it means less dole and less rent supplement to be paid out and lower demand on health and education services. The Government parties will deny this vehemently, but their protests will carry no weight. The facts speak for themselves.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an díospóireacht seo. Tá sé iontach tráthúil go bhfuil an plé seo againn anocht sa Dáil agus aréir. Gan a bheith ag iarraidh a bheith ag scóráil pointí ar an Rialtas, sílim go dtéann an cheist seo thar na páirtithe polaitiúla agus thar na pobail ar fad, mar níl pobal ar bith sa tír nach bhfuil buailte le daoine óga a bhí orthu an tír a thréigean agus atá imithe thar sáile. Tá a fhios againn faoin bhriseadh croí atá sa phobal agus atá ar aithreacha agus máithreacha agus ar cháirde agus a leithéid. Tá a fhios againn faoin scamall mór dubh atá thar an tír seo agus thar na pobail mar gheall go bhfuil go leor d'ár aosóg i gceantair cosúil le Nua Eabhrac, Londain, Perth, Canberra, Sydney agus a leithéid.

This debate will be very important only if we have focus from the Government on the plight of young people and the effect emigration is having on communities and families, if we can move forward in a way which refocuses the Government's energies and it gives a commitment to deal with this in a substantial way and not in a headline and spin way with regard to the youth guarantee. Over the past two days the small amount of funding being made available for the youth guarantee has been discussed. It will not make any substantial impact on the crisis we have with regard to emigration and youth unemployment, which stands at almost 30%.

Deputy McLellan pleaded with the Government to do something in respect of this matter and asked a very pertinent question as to the type of country with which we will be left if we do not deal with this crisis. Deputy Ó Caoláin referred to the number of young people who have emigrated. In total, some 250,000 people emigrated in the past four years. These individuals were of the view that, for one reason or another, better opportunities were to be had in greener pastures outside our borders. It is important, particularly in the context of our earlier debate on the exit from the troika programme, to ask the very important question as to who we are and what type of nation we have created. The public can never see them because they are for our eyes only, but all around the walls of the Chamber are busts of the patriots of 1916 and other bygone times. When I look at them, I sometimes ask myself about the nature of our country. Is this a country which is rearing its children for export? Is it a country of which we can be proud, particularly now that we have cut social welfare payments for young people in order to encourage them to get out of their homes and to stop watching their flat-screen televisions? Is this a country of which we can be proud or has it ignored its young people and allowed 250,000 of its citizens, the majority of whom are young, to emigrate in recent years? Is this a country that is proud of the fact that over 29% of its young people are unemployed? The answer in this regard is no.

We can hide behind the troika, the financial crisis, the banking collapse, the economy etc. but if we want to take action, we can do so. What is missing is commitment on the part of the Government. Before I entered the Chamber I received an e-mail from my constituency office asking how to reply to a heartbreaking letter sent to me by a mother in Donegal who is concerned about her 25 year old daughter. The latter has a degree, she was involved in and enjoyed the JobBridge programme but she cannot obtain employment. She applies for jobs each week and visits the FÁS website regularly and looks at the same advertisements over and over again. The girl in question volunteers in her community and helps out local farmers because she does not want to be idle. Her only sibling has already emigrated and her mother is asking whether there is any light at the end of the tunnel for our very neglected county. Her mother also wants to know if we can give her any hope that things will get better in order that she might convince her daughter not to emigrate. This woman and others like her are waiting for such hope. Far too many mothers and fathers have been put into the position whereby millions of pixels dancing on a computer screen have replaced the embrace of their sons and daughters who have fallen on hard times in, for example, Perth in Australia. These people have been obliged to see their newborn grandchildren or their first cries or laughter via Skype.

We can take action, even within the confines of austerity, in respect of this issue. However, what is needed is for real focus to be placed on it.

Nuair a smaoiním ar dhaoine óga, smaoiním ar dhaoine a bhfuil cliste, bríomhar, cumasach agus paiseanta. Austerity rules, Minister. Cuirim fáilte roimh the National Youth Council, SpunOut, the Union of Students in Ireland and the Mandate trade union to this debate on the youth guarantee.

I attended events in London and New York in recent weeks which attracted large numbers of the diaspora. I met many young people who were forced to emigrate as a result of the disastrous policies of the previous Fianna Fáil Government and those of the current Fine Gael-Labour Administration. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour are our own little indigenous troika. These young people do not want to be away from their families and they did not want to leave their friends and communities behind ach ní raibh aon obair ar fáil dóibh sa bhaile. Many rightly believe, this is also my view, that the Government like its predecessors is using forced emigration as a safety valve as a matter of policy.

The average level of youth unemployment in Europe is 23.5%. Here it is 28%. This means there are 64,700 young people in this country who are officially unemployed. Many of them live in my constituency in Louth. The youth guarantee scheme is supposed to help tackle this problem and offer all young people up to the age of 25 continued education, apprenticeships, traineeships or jobs within four months of leaving formal education or being unemployed. However, it does not guarantee jobs. This highlights the major disconnect that exists. Jobs are a consequence of economic growth. If there is no growth, there will be no new jobs. All the apprenticeships and training schemes in the world will not create jobs. As my colleagues have already noted, in the budget introduced last month the Government took almost one third of jobseeker's allowance from young people under the age of 25. The Tánaiste claimed that this is not really cutting benefits. It was also stated that what is being done is necessary in order to encourage young people into employment. A leaked document from the Department of Social Protection has warned that the Government cannot keep to its own commitments in respect of the youth guarantee scheme. Perhaps the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Quinn, will respond in respect of this matter when he makes his contribution.

The International Labour Organisation has estimated that a decent youth guarantee scheme such as that implemented in Sweden costs approximately €6,600 per participant. It also stated that €435 million would be needed to provide such a scheme in this State. To date, the Government has only committed to spending €14 million or a miserly €260 on each young citizen. Following the Paris summit, the Taoiseach referred to €200 million being provided by Europe. However, no information has been forthcoming on this money. It was also said that the State would be obliged to find one third of this €200 million. From where will the Government produce the €60 million in matching funding that is required?

The fact is that 300,000 citizens - mainly young people - have been forced to emigrate during the past four years. There are now 18,000 fewer young people in paid employment today than was the case when the Government entered office. There is a crisis in respect of youth unemployment and the Government must implement a real and viable job creation strategy connected to a practical apprenticeship, education and training programme. The amendment to the motion tabled by the Government will not facilitate this. Why will the Government not support Sinn Féin's proposal to provide an adequately funded youth guarantee scheme? Why will it not sign up to make youth employment a key priority? The Government pretends that there is no problem and that its strategy is working. Young people tell a different story. They know they come from the best small country in the world to get out of. The damage their leaving will do to their communities, society and their families will be with us for generations.

Sinn Féin's motion proposes a practical and fair alternative to the Government's policy. It is not austerity and we are proud of that fact. Our alternative offers a just, fair and practical way to fund a real youth guarantee scheme. I urge Deputies to support it.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to conclude the debate for the Government side. My colleague, the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Burton, described in great detail the scarring effects that unemployment can have on young people, resonating throughout their lives. The only way to avoid those scars and to ensure that young people have access meaningful opportunities is to get the economy growing again and to generate real jobs. That is exactly what the Government is doing. In the three years before this Government took office, employment was falling by 100,000 per annum. During the past year, that trend has been reversed and approximately 3,000 jobs are now being created each month. We expect employment to continue growing at that rate into next year. That is the general trend, but there has also been some stabilisation of the levels of youth employment since the Government took office. The number of young people in jobs fell by close to 190,000 in the three years before the Government took office. I accept that it fell even further, by approximately 18,000, in 2012.

Youth employment has stabilised in the past year and appears set to start growing as the economic recovery continues. The youth unemployment rate has fallen from 31% in early 2012 to 28% in the first half of this year and continues to fall, albeit not quickly enough.

I propose to make some points on the role of education because it is important to have an informed debate about an issue as serious as the future of our young people. I acknowledge, however, as everyone does, that more must be done and in that regard, I share the concerns of Sinn Féin. In the past two and a half years we have begun the work of completely reshaping the interactions between unemployed persons and the State. When people became unemployed in the past, they went to an office which assessed the level of financial support they should be given, without reference to what they would do with the rest of their lives or how they would re-enter the labour market. There was a complete disconnect between unemployment and returning to the labour market. We are slowly unrolling the Intreo service. While we would like to do so quickly, this is not possible. Under this system, if a young or middle aged person loses his or her job, he or she will be asked to state his or her family circumstances which will determine the financial support to be provided. However, unlike previously in dole offices, persons in these circumstances will also be asked what they propose to do with the rest of their lives. They may have a qualification for which there is no longer a demand, in which case they will be asked what they propose to do about the issue and how Intreo can help. They will be asked to take up employment, seek work experience or training. We are trying to develop a Scandinavian social market model.

The live register is not a static set of figures but an extraordinarily vibrant indicator of the large number of people churning through employment and unemployment. We must reach a point at which we provide a degree of security in order that people do not fall through the floor into abject poverty. If someone loses his or job, for whatever reason, and presents to claim the social support to which he or she is entitled, having paid into a social welfare system, he or she will also be asked what new qualifications, training or experience he or she will accept. Where people indicate they are not interested in an offer, there must be consequences. Jobs are available in new areas. For example, the current global shortfall in teachers is 16 million and there are 5 million vacancies for people with information and communications technology skills in the European Union. There is a gap between the jobs that need to be filled and the skills available. We are trying to match skills to jobs.

Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil leo siúd a ghlac páirt sa díospóireacht seo, ní hamháin mo chomhghleacaithe ach freisin iad siúd ón Rialtas. Measaim go bhfuil sé tábhachtach go mbeadh díospóireacht againn ar an gceist phráinneach seo. Is trua nach bhfuil gach rud atá ráite sa díospóireacht seo go hiomlán fíor. Cloisimid go minic ón Rialtas go bhfuil gach rud á dhéanamh acu. Ní léir dom agus ní léir dóibh siúd atá ar na scuainí dífhostaíochta go bhfuil go leor á dhéanamh ag an Rialtas seo chun déileáil leis an bhfadhb mhór dífhostaíochta atá sa tír seo, go háirithe i measc daoine óga. Ní dhearna an Rialtas deireanach a thuilleadh ach oiread. Tá teipithe ar lucht an Rialtais déileáil i gceart leis an gceist seo ón uair a toghadh iad, tar éis dóibh geallúint a thabhairt don phobal le linn fheachtas na bliana 2011 go mbeadh sí seo go hard in ord na bpriarachtaí acu. Níor tharla sé sin ón am gur tháinig na páirtithe le chéile chun clár an Rialtais a ullmhú. Níl an dífhostaíocht mar phriaracht acu. Tá siad tar éis díriú isteach ar go leor daoine eile seachas na daoine dífhostaithe sa tír seo atá ar an ngannchuid, nó na daoine atá tar éis an bád bán a thógáil agus an Stát seo a fhágáil. Cuimsíonn daoine óga, ina measc iad siúd atá páirteach i scéimeanna traenála, níos mó ná 30% dóibh siúd atá dífhostaithe. Tá an-chuid dóibh dífhostaithe le tréimhse fada.

Far from guaranteeing the youth of Ireland anything meaningful, the approach of the Government and the Fianna Fáil-led Government that preceded it has been to punish, demonise, demoralise and discriminate against young people who are unemployed and do not have access to employment because jobs are not available. In budget 2010 the previous Government cut dole payments for those aged under 25 years. Fine Gael and the Labour Party voted against the measure, arguing strongly at the time, with Sinn Féin, that the cuts did nothing to address the shortage of jobs, as there were not nearly enough places available in education and training, and that they would simply drive more young people to emigrate. That was the response of the current Government parties to a measure introduced in budget 2010. The very same parties have recently introduced further cuts to the dole for young jobseekers. These cuts still do nothing to address the shortage of jobs, as there are still not nearly enough places in education and training. On the contrary, they will exacerbate the problem of emigration among young peoplewho will, as previous speakers highlighted, move to far-flung places.

The social welfare cuts are wrong and should be reversed on the basis that they amount to blatant discrimination against young people. I believe they are contrary to the Equal Status Acts and would be interested if someone were to take a case against the Government, specifically on the basis of discrimination against young people. This is not a balancing act, as the Minister would have us believe, between service support and income support. The cut to jobseeker's allowance and supplementary welfare allowance amounts to approximately €32 million which will be taken directly from the pockets of poor young adults. Deputies should remember that these payments are means tested and one must be poor to qualify for them. The Department has confirmed to me that the only additionality in terms of activation provision for young people is the small and laughably inadequate €14 million allocated to the youth guarantee in the budget. The International Labour Organization has estimated that a decent youth guarantee, similar to that implemented in Sweden, would cost approximately €6,600 per participant. Approximately 65,000 young people are unemployed, which means that the €14 million allocated by the Government amounts to only €215 per person. Even if one adds to this figure the funds available from the European Union under the youth guarantee, it still falls far short of the €6,600 per person the ILO estimates is required for a meaningful youth guarantee.

Income supports for young unemployed people have been targeted for cuts across the board. These cuts affect young people and their families. Not only is €32 million being cut from jobseeker's allowance payments and supplementary welfare allowance payments which supposedly acts as a safety net, but the Government has also made cuts to apprenticeships and for people in training. The contribution charge for periods spent in institutes of technology by FÁS apprentices will no longer be covered, costing apprentices more than €1,000. Training allowances for participants in FÁS and Youthreach schemes have been abolished, alongside the €20 top-up paid to the long-term unemployed who take up training. Young people will be hit by these further hidden cuts which have not been covered extensively in the media.

Pathways to Work is the ultimate misnomer. With 35 jobseekers for every advertised vacancy, the big elephant in the room is the question, "Pathways to what work?" The Government has been relying on emigration and under-resourced activation schemes to shrink the live register figures.

Cuts to CE scheme funding have seriously undermined the training that can be delivered by those schemes. Gateway and Tús, which involve compulsion and are not based around formal training, move us further down the dark road to workfare. Gateway participants will be doing work that local authority full-time employees should be doing and would be doing had this Government and the previous one not continuously cut the numbers in local authorities.

Much has been made by Government Deputies here today about the current activation and training schemes, and the Minister, Deputy Burton, has heard me speak on this issue previously. Let me set the record straight, because the Minister fails to set it straight when she speaks about JobBridge. Of the €14 million the Minister has allocated to the youth guarantee, €7.5 million will be additional funding for JobBridge. JobBridge, in its current form, has no place in any youth guarantee, if it is to be genuine. It is €7.5 million to provide more free labour to companies. Where is the contribution of those companies?

In recent times I have noted that whenever the Minister speaks about JobBridge, she prefaces it with the words "the very successful". At what is it successful? It is successful at providing the Government with cover for its abject failure to provide real jobs, providing employers - including those making high profits - with a supply of free labour, displacing paid employment opportunities and depressing wages.

The youth guarantee agreed at EU level in July 2013 commits to the Minister and others to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 years receive an offer of good-quality employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. The youth guarantee should be about real employment, high-quality training and education. JobBridge, in its current form, is not that. Forecourt assistants, waitresses, housekeeping, car valeting, food operatives and telesales assistants are the sort of positions advertised on the JobBridge website. It does not take 40 hours a week for nine, or even 18, months to learn to clean a car, change a bed, carry plates or flip a burger. All of these jobs are relatively quick to learn and they include hard work, for which people should be paid and for which employers are willing to pay.

These internships are depressing real job creation. Why create a job and pay an employee when one can get someone for nothing from the Department of Social Protection and let the people pay the expense of providing work for one's company? Since the Government took up office, there are 18,000 fewer young people employed in the economy. Over roughly the same period, there have been 22,000 JobBridge internships.

The influence of JobBridge on pay rates across the economy should not be underestimated. JobBridge introduces a new minimum wage of €3.75 an hour - €100 dole plus a €50 top-up. The Minister has been fond of quoting, to me and other Deputies, the Indecon report. I went back over the report and found I had missed some of the quotes in it. The Minister might be interested in some of the figures. She failed to mention that the Indecon report states: "Average hourly earnings among JobBridge participants who have secured employment following their placements, are presently equivalent to around 56% of the average level of hourly earnings across the economy as a whole." They are not getting the top jobs. They are not getting the top rates, and yet these are persons who have skills, who have qualifications and who, often, have experience, even before they have taken up the internships. Most JobBridge participants have both qualifications and experience.

Here is another Indecon figure the Minister has not highlighted in the media. Some 29% of host companies, when surveyed, stated that in the absence of the JobBridge scheme they would have offered paid employment to interns. According to the report, "6.5% of hosts stated that they would have been highly likely to have offered paid employment to JobBridge interns in the absence of the scheme, while 22.5% indicated that they would have been fairly likely." This is proof that the Minister is providing free labour - maybe her party's name could be changed to that. This is merely the level of displacement to which the Minister admits.

The Government has also used the JobBridge scheme to provide labour in different Departments of State and also in local authorities. As the Minister has given me the figures lately, she should not shake her head. These provide free labour to Departments with no prospect of any job. Any type of internship should hold the prospect of a job at the end of it. In case the Minister has not noticed or has not read up on the notes she was given when she joined the Cabinet, there is a public service embargo. The Minister has done nothing to lift that, and yet these people are expected to work for nothing for the Department at a cost to themselves. The Minister is shameful in her protection of JobBridge.

The Government applauds itself repeatedly for reversing the €1 cut to the minimum wage that was implemented by Fianna Fáil, and I applauded her at the time. However, the Government's ultimate legacy will be the transformation of this country into a minimum-wage economy in which insecurity and poverty wages will be rife, an economy in which one will be expected to work the probationary period of nine months in any new job one seeks for free. The long-term negative impact of the Government's approach to worker's basic rights and wages for our young people will be lasting and significant. They should not be underestimated or ignored. Neither should the hundreds of thousands who have emigrated, many of whom are young people who will probably never return to our shores to take up employment and who have lost homes in the economy. These are persons in whom the State has invested. We, as an economy, should be bearing the fruits of that investment rather than allowing some other economy abroad to benefit from it.

Earlier, one of the Members stated that he found it strange that my party should be encouraging people to take up jobs, internships or activation. I have no hesitation in encouraging any young person to take up a job or a place on an activation or training scheme, but I have a major problem encouraging anyone to take up a place on a scheme that advocates free labour for companies that are making millions of euro. There are multinationals that are benefiting from this. It is a shame, given that so much Government funding is being invested in schemes such as JobBridge, that the Minister will not even publish the list of companies that are benefiting from our investment. She also will not publish the list of 32 companies that are blacklisted, those that have been found by the Department to have abused the system.

Shame on the Minister and the Government for not delivering properly for young people who are unemployed. Shame on her for forcing young people to emigrate. I wish the Minister, even at this late stage, would rethink the Government amendment to my party's motion and support the motion, which is a logical step for anybody who believes that he or she is on the left to take, to support young people who are unemployed.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 42.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Barry, Tom.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, John.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Martin Ferris.
Amendment declared carried.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 43.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Barry, Tom.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, John.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Martin Ferris.
Question declared carried.
The Dáil adjourned at 9.40 p.m. until 9.30 a.m. on Thursday, 21 November 2013.