During its recent Presidency of the European Union, Ireland prioritised the provision of the EU recommendation on the provision of a youth guarantee under which every young person should be guaranteed an offer of employment, training or further education within a target period of four months of becoming unemployed. Ireland also took the lead in discussions which led to the provision of a €6 billion EU spending provision which is to be front-loaded to cover programmes undertaken in the first two years of the multi-year financial framework, in 2014 and 2015. Ireland took this approach because it is acutely aware that persistently high levels of youth unemployment have a prolonged and disproportionate impact on the lifetime productivity and earnings of the young people concerned. We are in the process of developing a national implementation plan for a youth guarantee in Ireland and expect to forward this plan to the European Commission by the end of the year. The position in Ireland is that approximately 35,500 young people who registered for unemployment payments in 2012 remained wholly unemployed for four months or more, the threshold referred to in the EU recommendation on a youth guarantee. A significant number of young people also leave the register in the fifth or sixth month of unemployment. Trends in 2013 to date suggest the number of new registrants crossing the four month threshold will fall to about 31,000 for the full year. Data included in the most recent quarterly national household survey published by the CSO a few days ago are also encouraging. These showed the rate of youth unemployment, covering those aged 15 to 24 years, decreased from more than 31% to 26.5% over the year to the end of quarter 3 of this year.
I will answer the Deputy's second question as a supplementary.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Places on activation programmes are not generally reserved for a specific age group. Expected take-up by unemployed young people on programmes offering full-time opportunities is expected to be in excess of 27,500 next year. The programmes involved are JobBridge, Tús, community employment and Gateway, JobsPlus, the back to work enterprise allowance, FÁS and SOLAS training for the unemployed, Youthreach and community training centres, MOMENTUM, the back to education allowance, the vocational training opportunities scheme and initiatives related to entrepreneurship and international work experience under consideration in the context of the youth guarantee. These figures do not include young people progressing in the normal way through initial training such as apprenticeships, post-leaving certificate courses and vocationally oriented third level courses, all of which contribute to a guarantee of places for young people leaving second level education.