James Doorley: Government needs to deliver on its guarantee
The latest youth jobless figures are a reminder that despite an improving economy, many young people are still struggling to get a job.
While the rate of youth unemployment has come down from 31pc in early 2012, it is still more than 20pc, which is over twice the pre-crisis rate.
At the National Youth Council of Ireland, we are concerned that youth unemployment is slipping down the political agenda and that some assume that a growing economy will alone solve the problem.
It is true that some young people, particularly those with skills, qualifications and work experience, are well placed to secure jobs as more employers begin to recruit again and new positions become available.
However, there is also a cohort of young people who, without career counselling, further education and skills development, will struggle to gain employment.
The most recent data from the Department of Social Protection indicates that there are almost 19,000 young people signing on the Live Register for one year or more.
Much more needs to be done to prevent so many drifting into long-term unemployment. That is why in 2011 we called for the introduction of a Youth Guarantee.
This involves a guaranteed offer of a good quality education, training and work experience place to any young person on the live register for four months or more.
To its credit, the Government successfully led the adoption of a European Youth Guarantee programme with a budget of €2bn during the Irish EU Presidency in 2013.
The Irish Youth Guarantee plan was published in January 2014 with an estimated €136m being available from EU funds to implement the scheme here in the first two years.
To date, its implementation has been disappointing. In its own plan, the Government committed to delivering 28,500 education, training and work experience places for young jobseekers in 2014.
The latest information shows that just over 23,300 places were delivered. This is just 700 more than in 2013, prior to the introduction of the Youth Guarantee.
Investment in the Youth Guarantee and supporting young people to have the skills and qualifications to secure employment makes even more sense now as jobs are becoming available.
If we are to reduce youth employment, and in particular long-term unemployment, the Government needs to recommit to delivering on the Youth Guarantee and step up both the pace and scale of implementation.
James Doorley is deputy director of the National Youth Council of Ireland