Government policy to reduce unemployment is twofold. Employment policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs and Future Jobs Ireland strategies have created an environment in which business can succeed and has led to the creation of more than 500,000 jobs since 2012. Secondly, through the Pathways to Work strategy, my Department ensures that as many of these new jobs as possible are filled by jobseekers, particularly the young unemployed.
To date these policies have been effective in reducing youth unemployment. The number of young people in employment has increased by almost 25% since 2012, with 250,000 young people now at work.
Recently released data from the CSO, Labour Force Survey shows that youth unemployment has fallen from a peak of 31.2% (66,500) in 2012 to 15.7% (46,100) in the second quarter of 2019. Volatility is a big feature of the youth labour force structure, particularly in the context of youth unemployment, as young people are more inclined to move in and out of education or change jobs.
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 availing of 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 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. Over 400 young jobseekers have participated in the scheme to date, receiving a payment of €229.50 per week. My Department is currently promoting the scheme to employers as part of a series of employer roadshow events.
My Department continues to review its activation programmes and policies to make sure that they remain aligned to labour market needs. Given the progress made during the lifecycle of Pathways to Work 2016-2020 and the improved nature of the labour market, preparations have begun to develop a revised activation framework for the coming period. The new Pathways to Work strategy, covering the period 2020-2024, will complement the ambitions of Future Jobs Ireland, with a particular focus on increasing participation levels among underrepresented groups and those most distant from the labour market, including young jobseekers, ensuring that all jobseekers have the opportunity to compete for available job vacancies.
Over the coming years, we must ensure 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 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.