Young people still affected by impact of recession - OECD

Numbers defined as Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) still high

ESRI research published last year shows the importance of having a Leaving Certificate or a higher qualification in reducing the risk of a young person becoming either unemployed or failing to take up training or further education, has been heightened since the economic crisis. File photograph: Getty Images

ESRI research published last year shows the importance of having a Leaving Certificate or a higher qualification in reducing the risk of a young person becoming either unemployed or failing to take up training or further education, has been heightened since the economic crisis. File photograph: Getty Images

 

The number of young people in Ireland without work and who did not take up training or go into further education jumped during the recession and remains stubbornly high, a leading OECD economist has said.

OECD-collated figures show rates for Irish youths defined as being Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) almost doubled from 12 per cent in 2007 to 22 per cent in 2011.

Speaking at a seminar at the offices of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) today, Claire Keane, an economist who works in the OECD’s employment, labour and social affairs division, said the NEET rate has declined since the height of the downturn and stood at 18 per cent at the end of 2014.

“This is still above the OECD average and ranks closely with rates recorded for other crisis-hit countries such as Greece,” said Ms Keane.

Members of the NEET group in Ireland generally have lower levels of education than their peers, and have parents who were poorly educated and who have bad health, she added.

One major difference between NEETs in Ireland and their counterparts elsewhere in the OECD is that while there are significantly more women in this group in the OECD, there’s less of a gender gap in Ireland.

Ms Keane said there are a number of factors to explain this discrepancy, including a jump in the number of Irish men working in construction-related professions who lost their jobs during the recession and the fact that in some cultures, it is still less common for women to be in employment.

Childcare costs

Ms Keane said in Ireland, high childcare costs may be impeding female labour force participation.

ESRI research published last year shows the importance of having a Leaving Certificate or a higher qualification in reducing the risk of a young person becoming either unemployed or failing to take up training or further education, has been heightened since the economic crisis.

Concern has previously been raised about a lost generation of young people in Europe who failed to get employment during the recession. Eurostat data shows only 34 per cent of young people were employed in 2011, the lowest figure ever recorded.

Youth unemployment rose by 1.5 million to 5.5 million that year. In February 2016, the seasonally adjusted youth unemployment rate for the EU was at 19.4 per cent.

Ms Keane said research showed NEETs are much less likely to trust others, to value work or to have an interest in politics than their counterparts who are either working, studying or training.