Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment Louise O’Reilly TD has said the state needs to ensure young people are not left behind as we work our way out of the Covid crisis.
She further called on government to help deliver the necessary employment, education, and training opportunities to counter youth unemployment.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Over a decade ago, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, and then Fine Gael and the Labour Party, threw young people under the bus throughout the financial crash and subsequent austerity years.
“Exploitative programmes like JobBridge and Gateway were the order of the day, social welfare rates were slashed as a means of pushing young people towards the boat and the airplane, and emigration was rife in order to escape austerity and a lack of opportunity.
“Following on from the launch of the government’s National Economic Recovery Plan it appears that moves are afoot to introduce further punitive schemes which have been proven time and again not to work.
“The plan has made reference to a JobsPlus scheme to address high levels of unemployment amongst young people. However, what we have seen so far is suggestive of a ‘JobBridge 2.0’.
“This is unacceptable given the initial JobBridge programme was a total failure and only served to exploit young jobseekers and displace paid employment.
“Young people need real and meaningful support from the government through the delivery of education and training opportunities on one hand and measures that help create employment opportunities on the other.
“They do not need exploitive or short-term measures which seek to massage the live register figures.
“Young people have suffered enough already, as research published today by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission found, prior to the pandemic 60 per cent of young workers were on low pay and they were six times more likely to be on temporary contracts than older workers.
“That situation has become even worse due to the pandemic and the ESRI have indicated that young people have suffered the worst unemployment and labour market impact from Covid-19.
“They also say that they have experienced wage stagnation, and that their situation has been exacerbated by the housing crisis and the extreme cost of rent.
“Exploitive work programmes and massaging the unemployment figures will not cut it.
“The government must ensure that young people are given all the help they need to re-enter employment where they wish to do so.
“But for others it must ensure they have access to high-quality training and education to help them acquire the skills they need to enter new careers in secure and resilient jobs in high wage, high productivity, and high growth sectors.”