IN THE very appropriate week of the leaving cert results, it’s been revealed that Kildare has more apprentices (883) than unemployed people under the age of 25 (812). This came to light in the National Youth Council of Ireland’s (NYCI) pre-Budget statement which was released this week.
The NYCI is seeking a specific €2.5m investment in an ‘Access to Apprenticeships’ programme nationwide as part of its Pre-Budget 2020 submission to provide 500 access places at a cost of €5,000 per participant. This is just part of an overall call for investment of €14.9 million in education, training and apprenticeships to halve long-term youth unemployment by the end of 2020. The numbers seem to be on their side, with 16,000 apprentices entering training in 2019, up from 10,445 in 2016, and an overall 110% increase in the number of new entrants between 2013 and 2018.
However, the gender imbalance in apprenticeship scheme is also something the NYCI wants to address as only 2% (one in 50) of apprentices are young women, a figure smaller than the number of people with disabilities (2.8%) taking on apprenticeships.
“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,” said James Doorley, deputy director of the NYCI.
“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. At present, the government provides no funding to targeted measures to improve access to apprenticeships,” added Mr Doorley.
The NYCI represents youth organisations, working with over 380,000 young people nationwide. “Census 2016 indicates that our population aged ten to 24 will increase to over one million within six years, 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.”
The national youth unemployment rate is still over 10%, and almost 6,000 are long-term unemployed (for 12 months or more).
NYCI is also calling on the government to invest a further €5m to meet the needs of at least 1,000 long-term jobseekers, an additional €4.4m to support up to 1,000 young people under 26 into employment, and an additional €3m for a scheme which provides financial support to employers to recruit young people who are unemployed.