Thursday, 30 May 2019

Questions (159)

Bernard Durkan


159. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the level of youth unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23132/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

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 more than 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 young unemployed.

To date these policies have been effective in reducing youth unemployment. Recently released data from the CSO, Labour Force Survey shows that youth unemployment has fallen from a peak of 31.2% in 2012 to 10.9% in the first quarter of 2019 and now lies below the EU average of 15%. Additionally, the number of young people in employment has increased by 25% since 2012, with 262,600 young people in work in the first quarter of 2019.

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.

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 case managed 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 employment. The Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) provides young jobseekers with the opportunity to learn basic and social skills in a supportive work-based environment. Participants received a payment of €229.50 per week. My Department is aiming to place up 1,000 young jobseekers in the scheme this year.

My Department continues to reviews its activation programmes and policies to make sure that they remain aligned to labour market requirements. Given the progress made during the lifecycle of Pathways to Work 2016-2020 and the improved nature of the labour market, my Department has begun preparations to develop an activation framework for a time of economic prosperity. The new framework aims to 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.

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.