Diane Nolan – Youth unemployment - Ard Fheis 2012
In February of this year the unemployment rate was 14.7% in the South. Youth unemployment, which is unemployment of persons under 25 years, was more than double that figure at 31.6%. And in the North youth unemployment is at a 15 year high. Sinn Fén is a party of equality and the equality that we seek is not just basic rights of food and shelter, of education and healthcare but also I believe that real equality should give us other important things, such as; HOPE and OPPORTUNITY.
We can see clearly with the economic collapse that equality was never a part of the establishment’s agenda. These were the first rights to disappear for all of us; outside the golden circles; of banking, of closed shop professions and of political elites. For many who seek hope and opportunity emigration has seemed the only option and up to 75,000 Irish people are predicted to emigrate in 2012.
Sinn Féin will actively fight for these rights for young people and to provide opportunity and hope in their own country. We envisage the young people who are currently unemployed breathing new life into new areas for job creation; computer gaming and multimedia, community development, the green economy and new directions in tourism and agriculture.
As well as a fully costed commitment to the young people of Ireland to provide 18,000 places for retraining and up-skilling we also propose a Youth Jobs Fund. This fund would be open to organisations in the public and private sectors, social enterprises, co-operatives and young would-be entrepreneurs with the capability to create real jobs that deliver real benefits to our community. The cost of such a stimulus package is €500 million, however the disastrous costs of not taking action and creating youth employment will be immeasurable.
We also propose a national entrepreneurship programme with incubation centres around the country and to re-energise the co-operative sector, where Ireland often led the way in the past, through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. While Youth Employment is key to the development of each young person’s future, our nation’s future also depends on this generation of young people and the next generations; their skills, their educated adaptability and their energy. Help us to build a prosperous, sustainable and equal future for everyone.