Work initiative for 'Neets' all about building winners
UNEMPLOYMENT:POLICYMAKERS CALL them Neets – those “not in employment, education or training” – and they account for 30 per cent of under-25s in the labour force.
But the buzzword only reveals so much. It doesn’t hint at the lowered expectations, frustration and mind-numbing boredom that comes with not having a job when you’re starting out in life.
“You see more people your own age drinking a lot more,” says Stephen Ryan (19), from Cashel, in Co Tipperary, who left school early to work on building sites. “There aren’t any jobs around. Soon, you’re sleeping in because you don’t have to get up in the morning. So you sit on your arse all day . . . Not having your Leaving Cert makes it harder still.”
Carrie Crochet (20), also from the town, knows all about how confidence-sapping being out of work can be. “You feel useless,” she says. “Employers only want people with experience. Even for waitressing jobs . . . it’s easy, then, to just go to your room and lock yourself away from it all.”
Unemployment takes a huge toll at any age. But young people are the most vulnerable. Many young people out of work – there are 66,000 to 100,000 of them depending on what measure you use – face a real danger of becoming long-term unemployed.
Those with a degree or third-level qualification will fare better, research shows. But it’s young people who were lured out of school into boom-time construction jobs, or who hoped to go into trades after doing their Leaving Cert, who face a very high risk of sustained joblessness.
Economist Prof David Blanchflower studied this during previous recessions. He found that those who were out of work for long periods at an early age tended to have lower salaries and poor health outcomes later in life. “Unemployment while young,” he says, “creates permanent scars rather than temporary blemishes.”
Many of Cashel’s jobless young live at home with their parents and feel their lives are on hold. Work seems out of reach because there aren’t opportunities, or employers want experience they don’t have. Emigration often isn’t an option because they don’t have enough money to make the move.
To help tackle the problem, the Tipperary Regional Youth Service has been testing a new initiative that involves targeting those most at risk of long-term joblessness and guiding them towards work or high-quality training.
Unlike initiatives such as JobBridge, this involves one-to-one support such as building up young people’s confidence and self-esteem, and linking them into employment in a sector they’re interested in.
“The big difference with what we do is that everything is focused around the individual,” said Donal Kelly, co-ordinator of the Work Winner initiative. “We find work or training that a young person is interested in. And we stand by them if it doesn’t work out. It’s more . . . labour-intensive, but that’s where you get results.”
It is a 30-week, voluntary, full-time programme. The idea is that young people develop their employability through training and work experience. Those who take part continue to receive welfare payments, with expenses of €32 a week for up to 18 weeks.