We have advocated for policies to support young people into quality work and measures to address youth unemployment for many years.
The reduction in youth unemployment from an all-time high of 31.6% in February 2012 to 12% in Quarter 4, 2018 is very welcome. However, youth unemployment is still above the pre-crisis rate of 8% recorded in 2007 and there are also almost 8,000 young people under 26 years who are long term unemployed (have been in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance payments for one year or more). Apart from our work on measures to reduce youth unemployment, we also advocate for measures to tackle precarious work such as zero hour and if and when contracts, temporary employment, poor quality and unpaid internships etc. We have worked on the following issues:
- NYCI calls on Government to review current implementation of the Youth Guarantee and set out ambitious targets for delivery of the initiative from 2016-2020
NYCI was among the first organisations to call for the introduction of a Youth Guarantee in Ireland in 2011. We welcomed the decision of Government to support a Youth Guarantee and their leadership during the Irish EU Presidency in delivering an EU Council recommendation. This recommended that member states guarantee a quality offer of an education, training and/or work experience opportunity to young people who were unemployed for four months or more. We also supported the delivery of the Ballymun Youth Guarantee pilot which ended in December 2014 and which has been positively evaluated. In January 2014 the Government published a National Implementation Plan in order to draw down EU funds for 2014 and 2015.
While we accept the initiative would be phased in over time we are disappointed with the pace of implementation to date. According to the plan the Government was supposed to deliver 28,500 education, training and work experience places in 2014. However, the most recent data from May 2015 indicates that only 23,313 places were provided.
Also we are concerned that only 9,073 young jobseekers have completed a personal progression plan which is an integral part of the Youth Guarantee.
We are concerned that there is a view that a recovering economy will by itself solve this problem. Some young people will not be able to access the employment available without the education and training promised under the Youth Guarantee. However it is not simply an issue of quantity, the education and training must be of good quality, appropriate to the jobseeker and relevant to the labour market. Too often in the past jobseekers were sent on training courses solely to meet the needs of training providers to fill places. These practices demoralize jobseekers and are a waste of time and money. We need to provide high quality training that responds to the needs of both the jobseekers and the local employers.
Therefore we are calling on the next Government to review the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and to set out ambitious targets for the delivery of the Youth Guarantee from 2016-2020.
NYCI Policy Proposals
- NYCI calls on Government to commit to the introduction of a Living Wage in Ireland
- NYCI calls on the next Government to introduce a “Fair Work Certificate” which employers seeking to avail of public funds for job creation and maintenance would be required to hold
While we welcome the reduction in youth unemployment we are concerned about the growing number of young people on low pay and in precarious employment. The most recent data from the NERI Institute on the minimum wage found that 39.1% of young people aged 18-29 years in the labour force were on this rate. We are very concerned at the high number of young workers on such low wages. NYCI made a submission to and met with the Low Pay Commission. We welcome the 50c increase in the minimum wage, but we believe this does not go far enough to discuss the problem of low wages.
NYCI supports the introduction of a living wage to tackle low pay in Ireland. The NERI Institute paper on the impact and challenges of introducing a living wage concluded that, all things considered, the social benefits of a living wage exceeded the inherent challenges of implementation. Last year the Living Wage Technical Group was established to determine a Living Wage for Ireland. The group determined a living wage figure for 2014 and put forth very compelling arguments to support the implementation of a Living Wage. NYCI endorses the recommendations contained in the Report of the Living Wage Technical Group and proposes the gradual introduction of a Living Wage in Ireland. We welcome the recent decision of Government to hold a Living Wage Forum. It is important that this is the start of a process towards the introduction of a living wage.
Fair Work Certificate
There is increasing concern about the changing nature of the labour market, with a significant growth in precarious employment and what others refer to as “contingent” labour. Those engaged in internships, temporary work, part-time jobs, zero-hours contracts and sub-contracting comprise an ever growing segment of the labour force. This trend particularly impacts on young people, women and migrants. Many young workers are having the traditional entry into well-paid and secure employment elongated and frustrated by the proliferation of internships and temporary jobs on minimum and low wages. This trend had accelerated since the onset of the economic recession in 2008. A 2013 Eurofound report found that the number of young people aged 15-24 in temporary employment in Ireland increased from 11.2% in 2004 to 34.9% in 2012.
Government has limited powers to interfere in employment contracts except where laws, for example, such as on minimum wages are flouted. This does not mean that Government does not have any leverage. At present Government provides wage subsidies, employment incentives, enterprise grants, tax breaks and other financial supports to private employers to support job creation. The investment of public funds in job creation is welcome, but only where it supports good quality employment and decent work. Public funds should not be subsidising low wages, precarious work and poor quality employment. Therefore we are calling on the next Government to introduce a “Fair Work Certificate” which employers seeking to avail of public funds for job creation and maintenance would be required to hold. This would be similar to the Tax Clearance Certificate, which companies/organisations must hold if they wish to avail of public grants/funds. The criteria for such a certificate would have to be explored and determined, but could be designed to ensure that public funds are only supporting decent pay, and stable and good quality employment.
NYCI calls on Government to develop and implement a national access to apprenticeship/pre-apprenticeship programme to ensure increased participation by young people with few opportunities, limited qualifications and by more young women. NYCI welcomes the expansion and growth in apprenticeships in the last number of years. The number of apprentices in training in 2017 was 12,849, up from 10,445 in 2016 driven by a 53% increase in the number of new entrants between 2015 and 2017. NYCI supports the overall Government commitment to double the number of new entrants by 2020 to 9,000 per annum with the introduction of a range of new apprenticeships including in areas such as animation, horticulture and healthcare.
As we expand the number and range of apprenticeships, it is vital that these opportunities remain open to all young people, in particular young people who are economically and socially disadvantaged, those who have limited formal qualifications and increase the number of young women from the current 1% participation. We propose that programmes such as the DIT (now TUD) Access to Apprenticeship programme should be rolled out nationwide to provide supports and address barriers, which may prevent disadvantaged young people and young women from opting for and being able to sustain an apprenticeship, with a particular focus on the long term unemployed.
NYCI calls on Government to develop plans and implement measures to deliver on the Youth Guarantee commitment that any young jobseeker unemployed for four months or more is offered an education, training and/or work experience opportunity.
NYCI was among one of the first organisations to call for the introduction of a Youth Guarantee in Ireland in 2011. The Youth Guarantee is the proposal that any young person unemployed for four months or more, will be guaranteed an education, training and/or work experience placement. As part of the process, the young person with the support of a job/career facilitator will also develop a personal progression plan. We welcomed the decision of Government to support a Youth Guarantee and their leadership during the Irish EU Presidency in delivering an EU Council recommendation in 2013. We also supported the delivery of the Ballymun Youth Guarantee pilot which was delivered between January and December 2014 and which has been positively evaluated. In January 2014 the Government published a National Implementation Plan to guide the roll out of the Youth Guarantee in Ireland and in order to draw down EU Social Funds.
NYCI has been disappointed with the implementation of the Youth Guarantee in Ireland. While youth unemployment has declined significantly, the concept and principles of the Youth Guarantee are about putting in place mechanisms and supports to prevent long term youth unemployment. We should be embedding the guarantee during a period of lower youth unemployment, so that buffers are in place when the next economic shock occurs. All the evidence indicates that young jobseekers are more likely to be impacted by economic recession. NYCI is also concerned that there is a view that a recovering economy alone will by itself solve the problem of long term youth unemployment. Some young people will not be able to access the employment available without the education and training promised under the Youth Guarantee. We highlighted our concerns to both the Oireachtas and to the European Court of Auditors. (see links below)
We are calling on Government to develop plans and implement measures to deliver on the Youth Guarantee commitment that any young jobseeker unemployed for four months or more is offered an education, training and/or work experience opportunity.
NYCI calls on Government to ensure implementation of the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 to address precarious employment and “if and when” contracts.
NYCI supports the enactment of the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 to address precarious employment and “if and when contracts”. To fully protect young workers, many of whom are not in a strong position to demand their rights, implementation of this legislation must be rigourously monitored and enforced.
NYCI held a seminar Republic of Opportunity or State of Insecurity in October 2017 to discuss the issue of precarious employment and to discuss the proposed legislation.
NYCI calls on Government to introduce a Living Wage.
Almost 4 in 10 (38.4%) of those on a minimum wage are under 25 years, therefore the minimum wage rates are a major issue for young workers. NYCI welcomes the increases in the minimum wage in recent years to €9.80 per hour as of January 2019. Given the cost of accommodation, transport and other ordinary and everyday expenses, this rate still does not afford workers a decent standard of living. In light of this NYCI supports the introduction of a Living Wage, currently calculated at €11.90 per hour. For more details on the living wage see here.
NYCI calls on Government to abolish the sub-minima rates of the minimum wage which result in young workers under 18 years and aged 18 and 19 being paid a lower rate, i.e. 70%, 80% and 90% respectively of the minimum wage. See here for more details. We are disappointed that the Low Pay Commission failed to recommend abolition of these discriminatory rates. We welcome the abolition of the training rates, but these rates were in the main not used by employers so any change in this regard will be of limited value for young workers.