The EU co-financed Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) aims to tackle youth unemployment and implement the Youth Guarantee by providing job, education and training opportunities to young people aged 15-25 who are not in employment, education of training. YEI funding is reserved for use in those regions, including Ireland, where youth unemployment levels exceeded 25% during the reference year of 2012.
The specific YEI funding allocation for Ireland of €68m is matched by equal amounts from our European Social Fund (ESF) allocation and from the Exchequer, giving an overall allocation of €204m. The YEI is integrated into ESF programming and is being delivered in Ireland as a dedicated priority axis within the ESF Programme for Education, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020.
The ESF Managing Authority and the Operational Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC) maintain an ongoing overview of the funding allocations under the PEIL and re-allocate the available funding as required, in accordance with the EU Regulatory provisions. All ESF and YEI activities are fully funded up-front by the Exchequer. The activities currently approved for YEI funding are Youthreach; Community Training Centres (from 2017); Momentum; JobsPlus for Young People; the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme; the Department of Defence Employment Support Scheme (DFESS) and the Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) which the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is planning to introduce this year. Of these activities, Momentum, JobsPlus for Young People and the DFESS are specifically targeted at recipients of jobseekers’ welfare payments.
In terms of specific supports for young people with disabilities, the new Ability pre-activation programme for young people with disabilities will be co-financed by the ESF under Priority 2 of the PEIL, aimed at promoting social inclusion and combating discrimination in the labour market. The focus of the programme will be on projects aimed at young people with disabilities (aged 15 –29) designed to assist in their transition from school to further education and employment.
The Fund for Students with Disabilities is also co-financed by the ESF under Priority 3 of the PEIL aimed at Investing in Education, Training and Life Long Learning with a view to upskilling and re-skilling the labour force. As part of the Third Level Access measure, this Fund supports the attainment of tertiary education qualifications by students with disabilities, thereby supporting their access to sustainable employment as skilled members of the workforce.
There is a specific project “New Futures for Lone Parents” which is aimed at lone parents within the Gender Equality activity co-financed under Priority 2. The Gender Equality activity is aimed at women who are currently detached from the labour market and who are interested in entering/re-entering employment. It also includes an entrepreneurship strand in line with the objectives of the EU 2020 Strategy, focussing on supporting business women (irrespective of their economic status) to realise their full business potential.
Finally, lone parents and people with disabilities are within the target groups to be engaged in the Social Inclusion and community Activation Programme which is also co-financed by the ESF under Priority 2 of the PEIL.