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 email@example.com
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.