Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (535)

Alan Dillon


535. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Social Protection the way in which she plans to address the youth unemployment crisis, specifically for the Mayo, Galway and Roscommon region. [38098/20]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic, and resulting phases of public health measures, has greatly impacted economic activity in the State. Young people are particularly affected by the current crisis, given their tendency to work in sectors most greatly impacted (retail, hospitality, tourism and arts). I am acutely aware of the reliance on these sectors to provide employment opportunities for young people in the West of Ireland.

Latest CSO data indicates that at the end of October over 45% of young people in the labour force were unemployed based on the COVID adjusted rate, with just under 20% of this age cohert on the live register. While many of these young people, in particular those in receipt of PUP, will return to work when restrictions are eased, some may not. Therefore these young people displaced by the pandemic will require State support to re-enter the labour market, while not forgetting those who were unemployed prior to the pandemic.

My Department, and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, are developing a range of educational, training and support measures to assist young people on their journey back to employment. Measures announced under the July Jobs Stimulus include:

- Expanding the capacity of Intreo Centres to provide enhanced employment services and supports through the allocation of 300 additional staff, to include 100 Job Coaches.

- Extending the benefit of the JobsPlus recruitment subsidy to employers who hire young people from the Live Register.

- Facilitating access to the Back to Education Allowance and Back to Work Enterprise Allowance to those who have lost their jobs during the COVID pandemic by waiving the waiting period.

- Allowing persons who have temporarily lost their job during COVID public health restrictions to avail of part time education programmes while continuing to receive the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

- Providing additional places on State Employment Schemes in 2021 for those furthest from the labour market and unemployed for over a year, allowing them to gain valuable work experience and new skills while providing valuable services to local communities.

- Providing incentives to employers to take on more apprentices, with the provision of a grant of €3,000 to employers for each new apprentice recruited.

- Providing access to additional fulltime and part-time education, including targeted short-term courses with over 35,000 new education and training places for the unemployed.

Building on the Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS), my Department is developing a new work experience placement programme for those out of work for at least six months. This programme, which will incorporate a training and development plan, will provide jobseekers with the necessary workplace skills to compete in the labour market. I expect to launch the Programme in early 2021, subject to public health restrictions.

I am fully aware of the differing regional impacts of the pandemic and the need for targeted, localised employment measures. My Department operates a team of Intreo Case Officers in the West Division (Galway, Mayo and Roscommon), who provide a one-to-one career advice service and tailored employment supports to young jobseekers

The Intreo service is supplemented by the capacity of contracted employment service providers in the Division, such as the Local Employment Services (LES), which will be expanded in 2021 to cater for an increase in the number of referrals from Intreo. Many of these referrals will be those who are recently unemployed and may require additional support to re-enter the workforce.

My Department continues to utilise the existing Youth Employment Subsidy Scheme (YESS) which has proven very effective in providing work placement opportunities to 46 young people in the West Division to date. Furthermore, my Department continues to work closely with the local Education Training Boards advising them on course provision and the specific requirements of the local youth labour market.

My Department continues to work closely with the Local Employment Office (LEO), Galway rural Development (GRD), Mayo LEADER program and SICAP to support young people who decide to avail of self employment opportunities as a route back to the labour market.

I am confident that the national and local policy measures outlined above will assist young people who are seeking jobs to find a pathway back to employment.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.