Training centres turn teens away
RECORD numbers of applicants are being turned away by a scheme which offers a second chance to early school leavers and disadvantaged young people.
An estimated 1,000 teenagers are now waiting for vacancies in 103 Youthreach centres around the country.
Up to 90pc of the centres are full and have waiting lists, a survey by the National Association of Youthreach Co-ordinators found.
The group's spokesman, Bev Cotton, said that alternative destinations for early school leavers such as employment, FAS schemes and apprenticeships had drastically dried up with the downturn in the economy.
Many young people were turning to education as the best way to improve their employment prospects in the absence of jobs, he said, adding that Youthreach -- which has an estimated 3,600 trainees in all -- is the main alternative for 15-21 year olds who were not succeeding at school.
He said that part of the problem of excess demand was because the promised extra places for Youthreach had not materialised and of the 1000 extra places planned in 2007, only the first 400 were funded.
"The 200 [places] planned for 2008 and 400 for 2009 have simply been abandoned, leaving centres with record waiting lists and many towns with no service at all," he added. Mr Cotton is co-ordinator of the Mallow Youthreach centre, which caters for 15-21 year olds who have not been able to complete their mainstream education.
Ten subjects are offered at Junior Cert and Ordinary Level Leaving Cert on Youthreach schemes, including core subjects maths, communications, computers, work experience, personal and interpersonal skills.
Practical subjects include woodwork, metalwork, and catering.