At present there are 306 young people on apprenticeship programmes in County Laois, we need increased investment in Budget 2020 to support more young people into an apprenticeship and a range of other employment and training measures to reduce long-term youth unemployment.
That was the message from James Doorley, National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) Deputy Director, speaking in at the publication of the organisation’s pre-budget submission earlier this week (05.08.19).
In its Pre Budget 2020 submission ‘A Fair Share for Young People and Youth Work’ the NYCI, which represents youth organisations working with over 380,000 young people nationwide, is calling for an overall investment of €14.9million in education, training and apprenticeships to halve long-term youth unemployment by the end of 2020.
Mr Doorley said: “Census 2016 indicates that our population aged 10-24 years will increase to over one million by 2025, so we need to invest in policies, services and supports to meet the needs of young people today, while preparing for demographic pressures in the coming years.”
“We welcome job growth in the Irish economy and the consistent trend of reduced youth unemployment. However we are concerned that the youth unemployment rate is still over 10% and that almost 6,000 young people are long-term unemployed (for 12 months or more). We have costed a number of education, training and employment measures which, if implemented, could halve the number long term unemployed by the end of 2020,” said Mr Doorley.
Among the measures proposed is an investment of €2.5m in an Access to Apprenticeship programme. “We welcome the expansion and growth in apprenticeships in the last number of years. The number of apprentices in training in 2019 was 16,000 up from 10,445 in 2016  driven by a 110% increase in the number of new entrants between 2013 and 2018,” said Mr Doorley.
“We support the overall Government commitment to increase the number of new apprentices, but more needs to be done to open up apprenticeships to young women, young people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and young people who are economically and socially disadvantaged and those who have limited formal qualifications. At present only 2% of apprentices are young women and 2.8% have a disability. There is no data available on other categories such as young people who are socially and economically disadvantaged or those from a minority ethnic background. As we expand the number and range of apprenticeships, it is vital that these opportunities remain open to all young people, especially disadvantaged and underrepresented groups. At present the Government provides no funding to targeted measures to improve access to apprenticeships,” added Mr Doorley.
The NYCI endorses programmes such as the Technology University (TU) Dublin Access to Apprenticeship (ATA) programme funded by the private sector that supports young people aged 16-24 from disadvantaged backgrounds, and with limited educational qualifications in Dublin City.
“NYCI supports the proposal to extend this model nationwide involving all the key stakeholders, such as the local Education and Training Boards, Institutes of Technology, SOLAS, local employers and the local youth and community sector.
This programme provides supports and tackles barriers, which may prevent disadvantaged young people from opting for and being able to sustain an apprenticeship, with a particular focus on the long-term unemployed.
“NYCI is calling for an investment of €2.5m in a national Access to Apprenticeship programme based on 500 access places and a cost per participant of €5,000
“As part of a package of measures to halve long term youth unemployment, NYCI is also proposing additional investment in the Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) in Budget 2020. We are calling on the Government to invest a further €5m in the scheme to meet the needs of at least 1,000 long term jobseekers.