Speaking today after Minister Joan Burton's statements concerning the Youth Guarantee and Rent Supplement in the Seanad, Sinn Fein's Spokesperson on Youth Affairs, Kathyrn Reilly, said:
“A huge point of concern is the JobBridge for Disadvantaged youths. The compulsion of the scheme and indeed the penalties attached to the scheme are very worrying for me and for those in the youth sector who I have met concerning this issue. I am concerned about the actual process and I am looking for assurances that positions offered are suitable for young people. The Implementation Plan references work preparation courses prior to commencement but what shape will these courses have? How do we ensure good quality placements? What stage is the Minister at in the design of this Implementation Plan?
“Having young people with skills but no jobs is a serious problem. The Youth Guarantee should not be about what happens at the end of compulsory education. At a European Commission conference in Brussels on the Youth Guarantee in March of this year we heard that while this is the most “certified” generation, it is not the most educated generation. What monitoring of the education and training aspects of the guarantee are taking place to ensure that the personal and professional development path pursued allows young people to reach their potential?
“Another Issue that has been raised is a concern that young people on Disability Allowance or lone parents will not be dealt with under the Youth Guarantee scheme. The document does not mention these categories of young people. I have previously raised my concerns about young people who are not on the live register and who may not have a relationship with the public employment services. I have queried how exactly they will be guaranteed education, training or work placements. There is the inherent danger that if you exclude these groups now, you run the risk of embedding heir social exclusion in the system.
“The role of youth organisations in the Implementation Plan is vague. Stakeholders of the plan should play an intrinsic role in the whole process from its creation and throughout its development. We have no detail on how these stakeholders are to contribute and advise.
“I'm disappointed with the Minister's contributions today. We are no clearer on the specifics of the plan and, unfortunately, none the wiser. It is difficult to gain confidence and row in behind a plan when questions are left unanswered.”