Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
1030. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the new plans, initiatives and actions being put in place to address the high levels of youth unemployment arising from the Covid-19 pandemic; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11573/20]
Government policy to reduce youth unemployment, is twofold:
- to create an environment in which business can succeed and create jobs; and
- to ensure that as many of these new jobs and other vacancies that arise in our economy are filled by people taken from the Live Register, including young people.
This policy approach was effective in reducing youth unemployment from a peak of over 30% in 2012 to 12.6% by December 2019.
Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting labour market conditions, youth unemployment has risen to 13.5% in May, with the Covid-adjusted rate recorded by the CSO at just over 50%.
My Department recently published a Working Paper ‘The Impact of Covid-19 on Ireland’s Labour Market’ which highlights that those who have lost their jobs in the sectors most severely impacted as a result of Government restrictions and consumer reaction (retail and hospitality) are more likely to be younger than the general population. In addressing the prospects for economic recovery, it is important to consider the opportunities for forging an entry path for new, young entrants to the labour market. Equally, it is necessary to reach out to disadvantaged youths who were unemployed prior to the Pandemic, including those who already face significant barriers to work; low levels of education and/or no prior work experience.
Building and sustaining skills in the labour force will require a key focus as the labour market recovers, with a particular emphasis on skills which will be in demand. The Intreo Public Employment Service which provides job search and activation supports will maintain a close relationship with SOLAS and the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) in order to identify and referral to appropriate re-skilling and upskilling opportunities for young jobseekers.
I convened a Labour Market Advisory Council earlier this year to provide advice to Government on the policy responses required to support labour market and business recovery. Comprising experts from the world of academia, industry and civil society, the Advisory Council will be an important vehicle in providing guidance on employment and labour market issues and in developing the public policy responses that will support labour market recovery and assist us to retrain, re-energise and re-employ all those who have been disrupted by the pandemic, including young people. A Policy Paper, prepared by the Council, outlining public policy and labour market responses needed to advance economic recovery, is currently under consideration.
Work is underway within my Department on the revised Pathways to Work strategy to ensure that positive labour market outcomes are achievable for all groups in society, including young people, and that the Irish labour force is well positioned to respond to both on-going and future economic challenges.