‘Charter’ to help reduce youth unemployment ‘step in right direction’

Some 50,000 long-term unemployed people to receive ‘personalised’ supports

Groups representing young people and the unemployed have broadly welcomed a Government initiative intended to help members of a number of marginalised groups who have been out of work for prolonged periods to get back into employment.

Speaking at the launch of the Employment and Youth Engagement Charter at the offices of Accenture in Dublin on Tuesday, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said more active engagement and support would be provided to some 50,000 long-term unemployed in order to assist them into jobs.

An improved financial offering to prospective employers is also included in the wider initiative which is intended to provide employment opportunities, work experience, mentoring and other supports to young people who have been unemployed for a long period.

Other groups to be targeted include people with disabilities, those who have lost their jobs later in their working lives and members of the Traveller community.


Ms Humphreys said the initiative would provide personalised supports to some 50,000 people who are long-term unemployed many of who have already been contacted by the department’s Intreo employment services about engagement.

Those who fail to engage will face reductions to their social protection payments with 3,000 people said to have been already affected by such cuts. Ms Humphreys said any cuts made would be restored as soon as engagement occurs.

“What we are here to do is to encourage and support young people to get back into work,” she said at the event which was also addressed by the Minister for Enterprise and Employment Peter Burke and Danny McCoy of Ibec.

“The youth unemployment rate is at about 8.8 per cent, which is down from about 12 per cent pre-Covid. But what we want to do is help people back into work and while there are barriers there that some people face we want to work with them.

“The charter involved us working with businesses and employers. We’re asking them to take on young people and we’re providing incentives – you can have a grant of up to €10,000 for taking somebody’s off the live register. I’m firmly of the belief that when you give somebody a job, you really give them an opportunity in life.”

Brid O’Brien of the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed said the scheme had the potential to help a significant number of people “who want a job but currently find that the door is closed to them”.

“A lot will depend on how it is rolled out and how widely it is taken up,” she said, “but it has potential to help some of the people who are currently very distant from the workplace, perhaps because they need an employer to appreciate they might need particular supports or things like pre-employment training.”

Umbrella body Youth Work Ireland, which represents a number of bodies currently providing employment supports to young people around the country also said the charter was “a step in the right direction” but that the sub-minimum wage rates paid to many young people remained a barrier to employment.

“Real world experience with an employer is an important part of young people’s journey in the world of work,” it said and so “any charter or plan that can aid that is welcome”.

Michael McLoughlin said addressing the pay issue would “positively impact on young people in the labour market”.

Mr Burke said a report on sub-minimum wage rates that had been due in December would be published shortly but said the numbers impacted were relatively small in terms of the wider workforce.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times