Government policy to reduce unemployment is twofold. The policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs have created an environment in which business can succeed and has led to the creation of almost 400,000 jobs in Ireland since the economic low point of 2012. Secondly, through the Pathways To Work strategy, my Department ensures that as many new jobs as possible are filled by people taken from the live register, particularly the long-term unemployed.
To date, these policies have been effective in reducing youth unemployment. Latest available data from the CSO shows that Irish youth unemployment has fallen from a peak of 31.2% in 2012 to 12.8% in April 2019 and now lies below the EU average of 14.9%. Additionally, the number of young people in employment has increased by 25% since 2012 , with 247,500 young people in work by the fourth quarter of 2018.
Under the Government’s policies to support the young unemployed, the first intervention is to provide case officer support to help newly unemployed young people find and secure sustainable jobs. There is monthly engagement with all young jobseekers by a case officer, and a personal progression plan is developed to chart the steps to be taken to facilitate a return to employment, which may include further education and training opportunities.
For those who do not find employment through this process, additional offers are provided for through further education and training programmes or in existing community-based employment programmes/workplace based interventions such as Community Employment and Tús; or in subsidies to employers, through JobsPlus Youth. Long-term unemployed jobseekers under-25 are also referred to JobPath, a contracted, payment-by-results employment service that provides additional resources and supports to those long-term unemployed.
In October 2018, I introduced a new work experience programme targeted specifically at young jobseekers who are long-term unemployed or who face significant barriers to gaining employment. The Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) provides young jobseekers with the opportunity to learn basic work and social skills in a supportive environment while on a work placement. Participants receive a payment of €229.50 per week. My Department is aiming to place up to 1,000 participants on this scheme this year.
Over the coming years, we must make sure that our citizens are equipped with the skills to take up jobs of the future and avail of the opportunities arising from a modern economy. Future Jobs Ireland 2019 has been launched by Government replacing the Action Plan for Jobs to deliver the required policy reforms to build a resilient workforce and innovative and competitive economy in a changing world of work. The strategy includes a number of youth specific measures which will be delivered on a whole of Government basis.
The policies being pursued by Government to create jobs and reduce youth unemployment will support further reductions in youth unemployment and add to the substantial improvements in the labour market that have been seen over the last few years.