Lack of training places for jobless youth apparent

Cut to welfare for under-25s was justified on the basis of youth employment initiatives

There will not be enough training or education places available next year for many jobless young people, despite steep welfare cuts aimed at directing them into the workplace, new figures suggest.

Last week, the Government announced a reduced jobseeker’s rate of €100 a week for under-25s on the basis that it would provide a greater incentive to take up work, training or education supports.

However, Youth Work Ireland – a federation of youth services across the State – estimates only half of the places needed will be available.

The Department of Social Protection was unable to say yesterday exactly how many places would be provided next year and whether they would be sufficient to meet demand.


Live Register figures show that during 2012 there were 41,000 people under 25 who were without work for four months or more. During this same time-frame, figures show a total of 18,000 training, education and work-experience opportunities available for young welfare recipients.

Shortfall in schemes
"Whatever way you look at it, the numbers next year will fall far short of what's required," said Michael McLoughlin of Youth Work Ireland. "The result is that young people – who in many cases are doing their best and trying to find work or access training – will be penalised with lower welfare rates."

On budget day last week, Government Ministers said €14 million would be provided to roll out a “youth guarantee” scheme over the coming months. This is aimed at providing guaranteed access to work, training and education for any young person out of work for four months or more.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton pledged the guarantee would direct young people into "good-quality work, training and educational opportunities for young people".

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for Ms Burton said it was too early to say how many opportunities would be available, but it was “likely to be significantly up on the figure of 18,000 estimated for 2012”.

The department does not have a starting date for when the youth guarantee will come into operation. It says delivery will draw on existing schemes – such as JobBridge, the national internship scheme – along with welfare supports such as the back-to-work and back-to-education allowances.

Department officials point out the €14 million is only part of the funding available. They say hundreds of millions are being invested in other programmes overseen by the Department of Education. In addition, they say the Department of Jobs and Enterprise provides funding for enterprise development targeted at young people.

“The most important contribution to providing opportunities for young people will come from the Government’s policies aimed at promoting economic recovery,” Ms Burton’s spokeswoman said. “Past experience suggests that youth employment tends to grow more rapidly than overall employment in a recovery period.”

EU plan
The Government is due to submit a plan to the EU by year end to draw down matching funds for a youth guarantee scheme. This plan will include an additional 1,500 JobBridge places; 1,000 places on Tús, a community work placement scheme; and at least 2,000 free training places for under-25s as part of a successor to the Momentum programme this year.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent