460,000 young voters: more young voters registered, mobilised and energised than any time in last 20 years
Quality employment, youth work funding and career guidance key issues
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) – which represents youth organisations working with over 380,000 young people nationwide – is calling on all candidates and parties to engage with young people and youth issues in the upcoming General Election. There are up to 460,000 young people aged 18 to 25 years eligible to vote, and Ireland has one of the youngest populations in Europe with the number of 10 to 24 year olds set to increase by 13% over the next 5 years.
The NYCI manifesto ‘Quest for the best: Make Ireland the best country in which to be a young person’ published today (02.12.15) sets out a range of policies and recommendations to improve the lives of young people. The document covers eleven areas including employment, mental health, housing, youth work services, education and training, alcohol misuse and active citizenship.
Public funds should not subsidise low quality employment – calls for ‘Fair Work Certificate’
One of the growing issues for many young people is the lack of quality employment, explained James Doorley, NYCI Deputy Director:
“There has been a significant increase in precarious employment such as internships, temporary work, part-time jobs, if-and-when contracts and sub-contracting since the onset of the economic recession in 2008. This means the traditional entry into well-paid and secure employment is postponed for many young workers. While we welcome the progress on the minimum wage and the commitments to address zero hour contracts, much more must be done by the next Government.
“NYCI is calling on all parties in the next Government to introduce a ‘Fair Work Certificate’ which employers seeking to avail of public funds for job creation would be required to hold. At present, Government provides wage subsidies, employment incentives, enterprise grants, tax breaks and other financial supports to private employers to support job creation. This investment of public funds is welcome, but only where it supports good quality employment and decent work. Taxpayers should not be subsidising low wages, precarious work and poor quality employment. This Fair Work Certificate would be similar to the Tax Clearance Certificate, which companies and organisations must hold if they wish to avail of public grants. The criteria for such a certificate would have to be determined, but could be designed to ensure that public funds are only supporting decent pay and stable, good quality, employment.”
Investment in Youth Services vital – 53% of all participants economically or socially disadvantaged
The NYCI is also calling on the next Government to increase investment in youth work services. Mr Doorley said:
“Youth organisations are active in almost every community, reaching over 383,000 young people. A 2012 study by Indecon shows that youth organisations are particularly active in supporting young people from economically or socially disadvantaged communities, with 53% of all participants coming from these areas. Youth organisations work in a range of areas such as promoting active citizenship and supporting the participation of young people in education and training – as demonstrated in the Ballymun Youth Guarantee pilot project. They also deliver programmes to promote positive mental health, school completion, Garda diversion and to prevent substance misuse.”
Every €1 invested in Youth Work saves over €2 in long run
“The Indecon research also found that for every €1 invested in youth work the economic benefit and costs saved by the State in the long run are €2.20. This study demonstrates that investment in youth work supports young people to reach their full potential and become active citizens. It also reduces long-term costs for the State in relation to the health, justice and welfare services for young people. NYCI is proposing that the next Government increase investment from the current €58 per young person per annum to €73 per young person by 2020. This would bring investment in youth services up to €73.1m by 2020.This is a modest increase in light of the increased youth population, additional commitments and regulatory requirements and inflation over the next five years.”
Strategy for Guidance Service for young people needed
“We are also calling on the next Government to develop a National Strategy for a Comprehensive Guidance Service for young people, as the current provision of guidance is not sufficient or fit for purpose. Both formal and informal guidance and advice can be invaluable for young people in making key choices about their future career and life. A study published by the Higher Education Authority in 2014 found that 7,000 students or 16% did not progress from first to second year at third level in 2011. This is just one example of the deficiencies in the career guidance system. Guidance and counselling is not only important in the school setting, it is also important for young people who are seeking further education, training and employment. It is important that young people have access to guidance and career counselling that is good quality, supports their development and is accessible when they need it most.”
New wave of young voters means it’s in the interest of candidates to engage
“The upcoming General Election will provide most young people aged 18 to 25 their first opportunity to vote in a General Election and have their say in who governs Ireland. We will be encouraging young people to go out and vote. However, there is also an onus on the candidates and political parties to engage with young people and youth issues if they want to attract the votes of the up to 460,000 young eligible voters. With voter trends among young voters increasing and with greater young voter registration and mobilisation, especially since the Marriage Equality referendum, it is in the interests of all candidates to have policies and positions on youth issues.
“Our manifesto addresses many of the key issues and puts forward a range of recommendations which, if implemented, will make a positive difference in the lives of young people,” concluded Mr Doorley.
For further information, please contact Daniel Meister, Communications Manager at NYCI on 01 425 5955 or 087 672 6619 or email email@example.com
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 voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.
Download the full manifesto at www.youth.ie/election16