Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Ceisteanna (309)

James Browne


309. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the percentage of youth unemployment in the south east; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13188/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The first publication of the Labour Force Survey which replaces the Quarterly National Household Survey (QHNS) was released on 16, January 2018 and is the official measure of unemployment. The most recent data shows that youth unemployment has fallen from a peak of 31% in 2012 to 12.2% in Q4 2017. Overall youth unemployment has fallen from well above the EU average in 2012 to well below the EU average of 16.4% in Q4 2017.

Within the South-East region, youth unemployment has fallen from a peak of 41% in 2012 to 13.9% in Q.4, 2017. The number of young people in employment in the South East increased by over 6,000 over the same period – from 18,600 on average in the year 2012 to 24,700 on average in 2017.

These trends indicate that together with improvements in the labour market and economic recovery, our approach to youth employment, which focuses in the first instance on enhancing processes and policies for assisting young unemployed people to find and secure sustainable jobs, has been relatively successful.

The Government’s primary strategy to tackle unemployment since 2012 is twofold:

- Firstly, through policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs, to create an environment in which business can succeed and create jobs. This policy now includes a specific regional Action Plan for the South East Region. The Plan has been embraced within the region and the efforts by stakeholders and businesses in the region are paying off: Average employment in the South East was 224,000 in 2017 – 14,000 more than in 2015 (baseline year), and representing significant progress towards the 25,000 target for 2020 as set out in the Plan.

- Secondly, through Pathways to Work, my Department ensures that as many new jobs and vacancies as possible are filled by people taken from the Live Register. Under this policy, employment services and activation supports are heavily concentrated on the areas of highest unemployment.

Under the Youth Guarantee process case officers engage with unemployed young people, on a monthly basis, to prepare and implement personal progression plans for employment. Where young people do not find work quickly, additional supports are offered through places on employment and training schemes, which are closely aligned to the needs of the labour market.

For those who do not find employment, through the process just described, additional offers are provided for. Most such offers (over 70%) are in existing further education or training programmes. Others are in existing community-based employment programmes/workplace based interventions such as CE, Gateway and Tús and First Steps; 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 services that provides additional resources and supports to those long-term unemployed.

As part of this range of opportunities, later this year I will be introducing a new work experience programme targeted specifically at young jobseekers who are long-term unemployed or who face significant barriers to gaining employment. The new Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) will provide young jobseekers with the opportunity to learn basic work and social skills in a supportive environment while on a work placement. Operational details are currently being finalised and I hope to launch the scheme in Quarter 2, 2018.

As indicated by the Labour force survey results, the policies being pursued under the Action Plan for Jobs and under Pathways to Work have been effective in reducing youth and overall unemployment, both nationally and in the south-eastern region and I am confident that they will continue to do so.