Wednesday 23 August 2017

Touching 30 but a decade from owning a home

Unstable contracts leave skilled youth in limbo

Highly educated young people face a huge struggle accessing credit to rent decent accommodation
Highly educated young people face a huge struggle accessing credit to rent decent accommodation
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

A generation of 20-30 year olds trapped in poorly paid and short-term contracts or part-time jobs, are more than a decade away from owning their own homes.

While numbers in employment are back at 2005 levels, more than 100,000 more people are engaged in part-time work compared to 10 years ago.

Highly educated young people, who were essentially innocent parties of the financial crash, face a huge struggle accessing credit to buy their first car or rent decent accommodation.

Banks won't lend without evidence of secure, long-term employment.

Economists and youth representatives have expressed deep concern on the "slow rate of transition" from temporary to permanent contracts. They say it could have profound implications for Ireland's future recovery.

Tom Healy, director of the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) said: "There are signals that increasing numbers of young people are getting trapped in a cycle of temporary contracts.

"These contracts are associated with lower rates of pay and inferior conditions such as sick leave or maternity leave, relevant to counterparts on permanent contracts," he said.

"It is at odds with the idea of Ireland becoming a productive, knowledge-based economy. Banks want certainty and households can't provide that if the main earners are on short term contracts," he said.

And it's not just lower income earners.

Traditionally safe middle income jobs are also increasingly insecure, he says.

"In recent years, more and more teachers are on short term contracts, for example," said Mr Healy.

A recent report by Eurofound - an agency of the European Union - revealed the number of young people aged 15-24 in temporary employment in Ireland ballooned from 11pc in 2004 to almost 35pc in 2012. The latest youth unemployment figures rose from 19.9pc in June to 20.2pc in July. The trade union-funded think tank claims employers are less likely to invest in training staff on short-term contracts.

As a result workers find it much harder to plan long-term career development.

Daragh McCarthy, research and administration officer at NERI, said: "We are running the risk of great skills deficits emerging and reduced productivity".

"If you're less likely to be trained up, that will be reflected in your earnings," he said.

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) says precarious contracts and internships are preventing our youth from achieving important life goals.

James Doorley, deputy director of the NYCI - representing over 380,000 young people nationwide - said "milestones such as leaving home, buying a car and getting their own place are being delayed until their late 20s or into their 30s".

Speaking just days after 58,000 Leaving Cert students received their results, Mr Doorley, said the issue is flying under the radar because of a perception that this unsteady period it is "a rite of passage".

"Those who form policy are of a different generation. They don't actually understand that things have changed a lot in terms of workforce," he said.

"If they go to a bank or credit union they must present information on what type of job security they have - that's when it gets difficult," he said. Some banks now refuse to allow parents or guardians to act as guarantors. When asked how this situation can be rectified Mr Doorley said: "First the Government needs to recognise that there is an issue there. Then they need to provide an incentive to employ people with tax breaks and ensure that jobs are of good quality and will provide long term work."

New figures from the NYCI reveal the Department of Social Protection's Jobplus incentive scheme is practically being ignored.

Just over 1,100 young jobseekers have benefited from the scheme since its introduction in July 2013

However, 25,610 others could take advantage of the system where an employer is paid €7,500 over two years if they recruit and employ someone aged under 25 years.

Sunday Independent

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