SFA PR on Youth Unemployment

Friday, 28 June 2013

SFA welcomes €6 billion to Address Youth Unemployment

Ireland must be a beneficiary to ensure focused action can be taken

“Just a quarter of people aged between 15 and 24 are working, down from half before the recession. Active labour policies are only part of the solution, reducing youth unemployment is not possible without a strong commitment and focus on education and growth.” AJ Noonan, Chairman, Small Firms Association.

The Small Firms Association Chairman AJ Noonan has welcomed the €6billion allocated through the EU budget to combat youth unemployment within the EU. Noonan stated that youth unemployment is one of Ireland’s most pressing problems and it is vital that Ireland is a beneficiary of this budget.

While welcoming the €6 billion Noonan said “that as it is spread over 27 countries over 7 years, it is but a ‘drop in the ocean’ of what is required, however it is a move in the right direction.”

“In the current economic and financial crisis the lack of job opportunities has impacted on young people more than any other group in Irish society, this is reflected in our high and increasing youth unemployment rates, which was 26.7% in the first quarter of this year.”

Before the economic turmoil, there were about 325,000 under-25s employed in the State. At the last count there were just 130,000, meaning that for every 10 jobs that existed at the beginning of 2008, six have disappeared.

“If Ireland secures some of the €6billion budget allocation, it will allow action on reducing youth unemployment through a strong commitment and focus on education and training,” said Noonan.

Noonan highlighted that the action required is both a short term and long term approach:

- No additional costs on employment in 2013;
- Optimise the role of industry, in particular small firms, as a driver of sustainable and inclusive growth;
- Strengthen the quality and relevance of education and training at all levels to reduce mismatches between skills supply and demand;
- Further reform of the apprenticeship programme to move towards a dual learning system, i.e., greater focus on alternate learning between training institute and industry, with a significant part of the education taking place in the workplace;
- Create jobs that offer attractive career opportunities for young people.

“Greater synergies between the world of work and education should be promoted, as a skills workforce is essential for our competitiveness.” Noonan said that the labour market needs should be at the centre of education and apprenticeships. “Practical professional experience needs to be added to the knowledge acquired in the classroom – mismatch between skills supply and demand must be reduced.”

In conclusion Noonan said that if both Government and agencies are forthright in their ambition to address youth unemployment we must ensure Ireland are a beneficiary of the fund. “We have to as a country and society reject the inevitability of a “lost generation”, we can and must create jobs and a working future for our youth.”

Ends.

For interviews, please contact: AJ Noonan, SFA Chairman at Tel: 086-2592610.
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