Lynn Boylan MEP calls for stronger action on youth unemployment
Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has called on the Irish government to learn from positive examples of combating youth unemployment from other EU member states.
Ms Boylan, a member of the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee, was speaking from Brussels today where Eurofound presented a report to the Employment Committee titled 'Social Inclusion of young people' in Europe.
Ms Boylan said: "This report shows there are positive lessons to be learnt about successful measures being used to tackle youth unemployment from some EU countries - particularly Sweden, Finland and Austria, which all have long-established and well-functioning Youth guarantee schemes.
"Eurofound's study reaffirms my view that there is far more the Irish government can and must do on this issue. The youth unemployment rate remains at around 20% and there are around 80,000 young people not in employment, education or training.
"While the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) funds pledged by the Commission are nowhere near enough to combat the scale of the problem across the EU, there are three simple steps the Irish government could take immediately to improve the way it implements the Youth Guarantee in this State.
"Firstly, the government should use the YEI funds to repair the damage it did when it forced apprenticeships to pay a levy in order to receive their qualifications. Promoting access to quality apprenticeships is a central goal of the Youth Guarantee, and there is no good reason why the government won't use EU funds to remove the barriers it erected for apprentices.
"Secondly, this report highlights positive examples where governments have acted to increase, not limit, the access of young people to the Youth Guarantee. There are examples from several countries where the age of those covered by the scheme has been extended to include those up to 29 years old.
The Dublin MEP continues,
"The government should extend the age bracket of people who can be eligible for assistance under the Youth Guarantee. It should also learn the lessons from the Ballymun pilot project - that by including only those on the live register, they are excluding lone parents, carers and people with disabilities from benefiting from the Youth Guarantee.
"Thirdly, this report highlights the fact that the meaningful involvement of young people and their organisations determines the success or failure of these schemes. While some states in the EU have ensured that youth organisations are acknowledged as 'principal stakeholders' with a seat at the table, the Irish scheme has revolved primarily around government agencies and departments. Youth organisations, local youth groups, trade unions and NGOs should all be involved in designing, implementing and monitoring the Youth Guarantee at a deeper level." ENDS