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Youth Unemployment

Youth Guarantee

The NYCI has been a long time advocate of a youth guarantee – a scheme which would see young people aged 18 to 24 offered a job, work experience, apprenticeship, or training within a defined period of time after leaving school or becoming unemployed.

Download the NYCI Youth Guarantee factsheet

Youth Guarantee Factsheet


Presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs



Responses to questions from the Committee:

Meeting (31.01.13) with Minister Joan Burton on the Youth Guarantee proposals

youth guarantee meeting

See details of the meeting at

NYCI makes youth unemployment presentation to Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) met with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education on Unemployment and Youth.
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NYCI Assistant Director, James Doorley raised a number of issues around NEES (Employment and Entitlements Service Employment and Entitlements Service); SOLAS (Seirbhísí Oideachais Leanunaigh agus Scileanna); the importance of internships for young people and the feasibility of a Youth Guarantee.

Mr Doorley concluded by saying:
"Unemployment is our greatest economic and social ill which impacts not only on the individual but their families, communities and our society as a whole. We shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of 80s and early 1990s where 1,000s of people drifted into long term unemployment.

Our work and the evidence on the ground indicates that the vast majority of young jobseekers want to work, start a career and contribute to society. It is vital that we create jobs and create the conditions for employment.

But equally in light of scarce resources it is crucial that the public employment services are fit for purpose and are supporting employability and employment. That can only be achieved with an effective and co-ordinated public employment service that responds to the needs to jobseekers and that is in a position to provide timely advice and guidance, appropriate training and education places and work experience opportunities which will help achieve that."

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National Youth Employment Conference - Report and Videos now online

NYCI held a one day National Youth Employment Conference on October 5th 2010 at Croke Park, Dublin.

Young people under 25 years have been badly hit by the recession with youth unemployment trebling since 2008 with 1 in 3 young men under 25 out of work. The scale of the problem is masked by a big increase in numbers re-entering or staying in education and the numbers emigrating. Government has a crucial role, but youth unemployment will not be solved by them alone. This conference is designed to bring together young jobseekers, the youth and community sector, representatives of state agencies, policy makers and academics to discuss the current experiences, barriers and challenges to develop proposals for positive action.

Download the full Conference Report (PDF)


Keynote Speakers included:

Professor Paul Gregg, Professor of Economics, Centre for Market and Public Organisation at Bristol University
Developments in the UK to address youth unemployment in the last decade and proposals to reform the welfare and employment services system:


Jim Power, Chief Economist, Friends First

Government policy to date and outline of what can be done to support job creation, particularly among young people in the current economic environment.

Three workshops took place throughout the afternoon covering the areas of:
*Employment Services & Welfare
*Further Education & Training
*Entrepreneurships and Internships

In addition a panel discussion with political representatives was chaired by journalist and broadcaster Vincent Browne, giving participants the opportunity to speak directly to political parties in a Q&A session.

Consultation on Youth Employment 2010

The outcomes from the NYCI consultation on Youth Employment highlight the difficulties currently facing young people accessing the labour market in Ireland. The main concern for young people is youth unemployment. In just the last two years there has been a rapid increase of a staggering 178% in youth unemployment and one in three young men under 25 are unemployed.

The consultation, which took place on March 27th in Dublin, was part of a European Initiative in structured dialogue with young people. The EU Commission encouraged each member state to consult with young people at a national level in preparation for a European Youth Conference on Youth Employment in Spain. NYCI nominated three young people from the consultation to attend this conference in April.

The young people consulted called on the government to tackle the issue of youth unemployment and improve communication between government departments and agencies responsible for the issue. They fear being considered the “mothball generation”, expected to just ride out the recession and emerge unaffected when the economy improves. However, young people do not want to put their lives on hold and feel that they do not have the opportunity and support to live up to their true potential.

The outcomes from the consultation show that quality education and training remains the most important factor in securing employment. Education systems should therefore better prepare young people for the labour market, beginning with improved career guidance at secondary level. In terms of improving employment opportunities, more investment in training and education for the unemployed are deemed necessary. In addition there is a necessity for increased availability, variety and relevance of courses. Those consulted identified the youth sector as playing a vital role, due to a people centered approach and adaptability to the needs of young people.

The transition from education to the workplace is difficult and young people can be exploited as cheap labour. Precarious contracts, lack of legal frameworks for internships, requirements of previous working experience were seen as main barriers to finding a decent first job.

Employment is considered a key factor for youth autonomy and this is threatened by changes to the social welfare system. Young people under 25 years of age who are not engaged in training or education have had their social welfare payments halved for 18-21 year olds and by 25% for 22-24 year olds. While these measures were introduced as an incentive for young people to engage in training or education, it creates a number of problems. Firstly, many young people are already very well qualified, having left third level with degrees and secondly there are insufficient places on courses. Another threat to youth autonomy is the loss of benefits between leaving education and training and receiving social welfare.

There is a call for initiatives to encourageentrepreneurship.Young people should be encouraged through better grant and mentoring systems.

The effect of unemployment on young people was a constant theme throughout the consultation. It has a detrimental impact on the mental health of young people. Many referred to the isolation and loneliness they experience. Relationships with family and friends are affected as young people retreat into their own world and can turn to alcohol and drug misuse in some circumstances because they lack confidence and their self esteem has been undermined.

Three Young People attend EU Youth Conference

Around 100 European youth delegates and 90 political representatives from all over Europe gathered in Jerez (Spain) for the EU Youth Conference “Youth Employment and Social Inclusion”. During three intense days of discussions they have reached Joint Conclusions that set the most important prioriteis to improve youth employment at EU level, see downloadable document below. These priorities include access to long-term, secure and fairly paid jobs, the creation of a more youth friendly labour market, sustainable pensions schemes, as well as fostering entrepreneurship, promoting quality internships and ensuring a smooth transition between education and employment. The conclusions were presented to the European Commissioner for Youth, Androulla Vassiliou and to the Spanish Minister for Equality, Bibiana Aido who will further pass them to the Council of Ministers on May 11th in Brussels.


Conclusions of Spanish EU Youth conference

To see full more information on the Structured Dialogue process and the conclusions from the follow up EU Youth Conferences on Youth Employment held by the EU Presidencies  in Belgium and Hungary please visit the NYCI international website .

Young Jobseekers want Opportunities, not Knocks!

Latest Live Register Figures show Government policy on youth unemployment is failing. 

NYCI welcomes reshuffle as a fresh start & opportunity to make real change

With 85,000 young people on the live register, Government needs to provide leadership and a strategy. An OECD report outlines the flaws in the current system and highlights the urgent need for change and action.

NYCI welcomes the re-organisation of Government to tackle the unemployment crisis, in particular to address the high levels of youth unemployment, where up to 1 in 4 young people below 25 are out of work. We also welcome transfer of the FÁS employment functions to the new Department of Social Protection from the old Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. We wish all the new Ministers well and look forward in particular to working with Minister Eamon O’Cuiv to address youth unemployment.

“The re-organisation addresses one of the issues identified by international experts from the OECD* last year, which found that key functions to support job seekers were spread across two Departments with very little co-ordination at national or local level. This reflects the daily experience of many job seekers who have difficulty dealing with a range of different Government Departments and agencies. This reshuffle should facilitate the establishment of one-stop shops for job seekers, where all services and supports are under one roof,” stated James Doorley, Assistant Director of the NYCI.

Today is a first step, but much more needs to be done such as:

  • A greater focus on job counselling and placement. The OECD report found that numbers of existing FÁS and other staff involved in this work was about half the European average even before the current unemployment crisis.
  • Training and redeploying more staff from other areas of the public service to work directly with jobseekers. Jobseekers are required to confirm their eligibility for benefits on a regular basis; however opportunities for direct advice and support on training and job support is much less frequent. OECD found that we have 50% more public servants focused on benefit eligibility, than on job counselling and placement. In most other countries, 2/3rd of staff are focused on job support. This is a huge weakness in the system.
  • Staff should be relieved of other duties to focus primarily on assisting jobseekers. The OECD report also found that the employment officers within FÁS that work with jobseekers was low at about 30.
  • Better engagement by FÁS with employers as current engagement with employers is weak. The OECD found that over 50% had never been contacted by FÁS and there is little follow through when staff are placed. NYCI also believes that the training provided at present needs to be reviewed.

The transfer of some training functions to the Department of Education and Science offers us the potential to do that. We are concerned that many young people are going on and being put through courses which are neither beneficial for them nor cost effective for the state. Many of the courses are short-term and online, which in our view have limited benefits for many young people.

“Eighteen months into the unemployment crisis, today represents an opportunity for a fresh start. The reshuffle and re-organisation of Government and the reshaping of the Department of Social Protection is a good start. However a lot more needs to be done. We also believe that it is time for the Government to engage with NYCI and other organisations which have positive proposals and want to contribute to solving this problem. The lesson from the 1980’s was the need to involve all the key stakeholders at local and national level to solving what is our greatest national challenge at present,” concluded James Doorley.


For further information, please contact

Clodagh O’Brien, Communications Officer at the NYCI on 087 781 4903 or 01 425 5955 or email

Notes to Editors:

*Activation Policies in Ireland, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Paper No 75, Grubb, Singh and Tergeist, January 2009.

National Youth Council of Ireland

The National Youth Council of Ireland is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of 55 voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.

Youth Council opposed to youth unemployment payment cuts

November 30th 2009

The National Youth Council of Ireland is opposed to proposals to cut jobseekers allowance for young people under 25 because it is a misguided and short-sighted policy that will do nothing for young people and the economy. Ireland has the 2nd highest youth unemployment in Western Europe, with 1 in 4 young men between 18 and 24 out of work. NYCI is calling for a plan of investment and stimulus to get young people back into education, training and work, not a programme of cuts and austerity.

“The proposed cuts could impact up to 42,000 young people between 20-24 on jobseekers allowance, all of whom have already undergone a means test which demonstrates that they have no or limited alternative income. To slash that by 20% will drive many who are already struggling further into debt and poverty. To cut supports by such a large amount for those young people with limited income makes a mockery of Government promises that the Budget will be fair and will protect the vulnerable,” stated James Doorley, Assistant Director at NYCI.

This proposal is being presented as if young people are unwilling to take up education, training or workplace programmes. This is untrue. The vast majority of young people who are unemployed are looking for meaningful education and training opportunities and workplace experience. The initiative by Government to start a workplace programme was welcomed. However, only 500 places have been provided for young people under 25, which is woefully inadequate when 75,000 young people are out of work. The reality is that the training courses and educational opportunities are not there to meet the demand.

NYCI wants to get young people off benefits and back to work. Therefore as part of a stimulus plan to get the country going again we believe that Government must guarantee every young person out of work a meaningful and appropriate training, education or workplace opportunity within 3 months of becoming unemployed.

We are concerned that the real motive here is just to cut benefits and not anything to do with the needs of young people. We believe that because there is a lack of places and job opportunities that benefits for young people will be cut even when have not been offered a viable alternative. We know from the measures announced in the April budget which reduced the job seekers allowance for young people aged 18-19 years that up to two thirds of them are on the lower payment €100 which indicates that the majority have not been offered alternatives.

“The Government response to the crisis of unemployment has been totally inadequate. What is being proposed is a plan to drive 40,000 young people into debt and impoverishment and push them further away from the labour market. Young people have the skills, commitment and initiative, but many cannot do it alone; they need a Government that cares and shows it cares about their future. Young people can be the drivers of social and economic renewal and recovery, but not with short term and knee-jerk policies like these,” Mr. Doorley concluded.


For further information, please contact Clodagh O’Brien, Communications Officer at NYCI on 087 781 4903 or 01 425 5955 or email

Notes to Editors:

National Youth Council of Ireland

The National Youth Council of Ireland is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of 55 voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.


For further information, please contact Clodagh O’Brien, Communications Officer at NYCI on 087 781 4903 or 01 425 5955 or email

Notes to Editors:

National Youth Council of Ireland

The National Youth Council of Ireland is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of 55 voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.

Young people under 25 years of age have been badly hit by the recession. As of June 2010 there are 91,646 young people on the Live Register which equates to one fifth of all those on the Live Register. Youth unemployment has trebled since 2008 with 1 in 3 young men under 25 being out of work. The scale of the problem is masked by a big increase in numbers re-entering or staying in education and the numbers emigrating. The numbers of young people under 25 emigrating increased from 15,600 in 2004 to 30,000 in 2009. Sectors such as construction, retail and services where young people were heavily employed shed thousands of jobs. Between Q1 2008 and Q3 2009 youth employment in construction and manufacturing slumped by 63.6% and 47.4%.

We acknowledge that Government does not create jobs, but rather its primary role is to create the conditions for employment and to ensure current and future jobseekers are equipped with the skills and qualification to avail of opportunities when they arise. We also note that there are no quick or simple solutions to the current high levels of unemployment. However we believe a lot more could be done. To date the response of Government has lacked coherence and co-ordination while their actions have in our view lacked the resources, scale and imagination required to deal with the problem of unemployment in the current context. We also believe that any measures or actions undertaken must not marginalise or push young people further into poverty, not damage their long term employment prospects and they must be effective.

What we want -

Clear political responsibility for youth unemployment and an overall plan which is coherent and comprehensive

At present there is not sufficient political leadership on the issue of youth unemployment, many of the actions and initiatives are spread across 3/4 Departments and a range of state agencies. A Minster who takes overall charge of directing the effort is needed.

Reverse the cutbacks in social welfare to young jobseekers

*The new policy is ill-thought out and does not take the needs of different young people into account. At the moment some young people are forced to engage in education and training which is of little use to them just to retain their benefits. The vast majority of young people want a job and failing that want education, training or work experience.

Public Employment Service that works for and with young people.

*NYCI welcomed the proposal to integrate the public employment services of FÁS with the benefit function of the Department of Social Protection announced in April 2010. Too many young people fall through the administrative cracks and this change provides Government with the opportunity to deliver a more coherent service to jobseekers. o There are a large number of measures, programmes and opportunities, all of which have different eligibility criteria and come with benefits and conditions. Decisions made in haste and without all the facts can have major implications for the career and livelihood of young people. While information is provided on websites and by other means it is vital that young people have access to skilled professional who can support them to make informed choices. We not only need more job counselling staff to support young people in these difficult times, we also need to ensure that young people are getting a good service.

Review Training Provision

Forfás has recently completed a review of Training Programmes. The findings raised a number of questions about the focus and effectiveness of some of the programmes provided. This review indicates that some of the programmes need to address drop out rates, are not sufficiently targeting those on social welfare, have lost focus on their target group and need to do more to ensure participants make progress after the course is over and provide certification.

NYCI believes that the following changes are required.

*Increased investment in supports and measures to retain young people particularly disadvantaged youths on training courses.
*Courses such as the local training initiative should be refocused on young job seekers between 16 and 25 years of age.
*Training opportunities should be targeted exclusively at those who are unemployed, particularly young people and the long term unemployed.
*All state funded courses should be required to provide certification within a 3 year period. Ø Courses should be required to demonstrate their effectiveness in supporting the progression of young people into further education, training or employment.
*Where courses or programmes are not delivering for young people, the resources should be diverted to other more effective programmes.

Youth Guarantee & Youth Jobs Fund

We believe a fund along the lines of the Futures Job Fund in the UK is required to support the employment of 18-24 year olds who are unemployed. Also the Dutch Government has developed a youth guarantee so that if a young person fails to find appropriate education, training or employment, the local authorities and/or not for profit organisations act as employers. The idea is that in return for engaging in activation, the authorities in these countries invest to ensure young people have the opportunities. By using this approach, the withdrawal of benefits is a very last resort.

Review & Expand Work Placement Programme

The Government established the Work Placement Programme in April 2009 which allows participants to retain their social welfare benefits while engaging in work experience. Initially take up was very low until the scheme was revised and in recent months the numbers have increased.

We think proposals such as making the programme part-time and providing young people with a bursary to undertake education and training make enhance take-up. We also believe that employers should be permitted to make ex-gratia payments to participants for expenses and perhaps in the form of a completion bonus. In a revision of the scheme it is important to ensure that the placements are of a good quality to improve employability and of course to ensure there is no exploitation of young people.

Increase Number of Back to Education Places:

*In light of the fact that some young people will not find work in the short term, it makes sense to support them to engage in education and training. Some schemes such as the Back to Education Allowance are not as costly as the participants are transferring from one social welfare payment to another. There is a cost of education payment of €500 per participant, the costs of supporting additional secondary and third level places, but these costs per participant is minimal. We think the BTEA scheme should be expanded to at least 40,000 participants with a particular emphasis on young people.

*The decision to introduce free college places for jobseekers was welcome. However only 1,752 of the 2,500 free part-time college places on undergraduate certificate and degree-level programmes have been filled to date and the Government is non-committal to date about providing more places. We believe a much greater number of places should be provided for the next academic year.

*Other programmes such as Youthreach, VTOS and PLCs have not expanded to meet the exploding demand. All these programmes meet very important needs and will support young people to be better able to rejoin the workforce when the economy recovers. Therefore it makes sense to expand these programmes now.

(1) Forfás Review of Labour Market Programmes, 2010