Generational impact of jobs crisis is an age-old issue
Analysis: The best thing the Government could do for the young would be to end the public-sector hiring freeze
In April, a report on JobBridge found that as of the end of November 2012, 12,560 internships had commenced. These figures exceeded the original targets.
But while this appears positive, two issues immediately arise. Given that there are more than 50,000 young people formally unemployed and 69,000 on the dole, the number of internships provided under the scheme is modest.
A second, more serious, issue is whether the scheme makes any real difference in helping young people find work.
Essential in trying to understand the benefits (or otherwise) of any government programme is the establishment of a control group of people who do not access the scheme so that a comparison can be made with those who do use it. The April report – curiously – did not include a directly comparable control group.
But whatever the benefits of the Coalition’s programmes, the closure of the public sector – by far the biggest employer in the State – to new entrants under the terms of the Croke Park pay deal and its successor has been unquestionably bad for the young. These deals are classic examples of older insiders being protected at the expense of younger outsiders.
While it is understandable that young people don’t protest against the recession – all the marches and demos in the world will not turn bust to boom – it is much harder to understand why they don’t get out to demand their fair share of the public-sector jobs pie.
How high is youth unemployment here?
Rates of youth unemployment in southern Europe exceeding 50 per cent have made headlines around the world in recent years, while Ireland’s somewhat less drastic rate of 31 per cent has been a cause for much concern here.
However, these figures need to be treated with some caution, in part because no single indicator gives a
rounded picture of something as complex as the labour market.
This is particularly true for the young, mainly because many under 25s are studying rather than working or looking for work.
In the first quarter of 2013, there were 540,000 15-24-year-olds residing in the Republic. As the chart shows, this is a very significant decline – of about 120,000 – on pre-recession times. A fall in the numbers of births two decades ago and the return of emigration in recent years explains this.
The chart also shows that the most dramatic change has not been an increase in the number of young people formally unemployed (up by just under 25,000 between 2007 and 2013), but a fall of 180,000 in the number in employment over the same time period.
Emigration and a decline in the population of that age explain much of the difference. Also important is an increase in the number of students, which has reached a record high, and – less positively – more young people who have dropped out of both education and the labour force.