19 May 2020
By Elaine Murphy
Ireland’s young people must not become the long term losers of the lockdown, a Cork Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Colm Burke (former Cllr, Lord Mayor, and Senator – an impressive CV) has called for targeted job activation measures for young people and wage support for employers hiring young people to be part of a national recovery plan.
What makes this unusual is that Colm Burke is a Government TD, although his Fine Gael party are not exactly in power as talks continue about forming a new Government with Fianna Fail (we cannot know the state of the talks as a message on the Fine Gael website yesterday warned “that the talks will remain confidential and a running commentary will not be provided to the media from any of the parties on matters being discussed in the talks“), what also makes this unusual is that “job activation measures” was a euphemism in previous years for JobBridge, which became something of a politically toxic scheme.
Nevertheless, let us get back to the main story today. Deputy Burke said: “With the economy at a virtual standstill, young people are at particular risk of losing their jobs. Activity and employment in the tourist and hospitality sector will remain at very low levels this year.” That is indeed true.
According to the CSO the unemployment rate for the under 25s is now at 53%. As the economy and society moves from lockdown to recovery the specific issue of youth unemployment will need urgent attention.
The Fine Gael politician, Colm Burke, went on to say that
“Targeted job activation measures for young people and wage support for employers hiring young people must be part of a national recovery plan.
“There must be a strong emphasis on training and skills development as part of any job support programmes for young people.
“An active labour market policy, establishing and maintaining strong links for young people with the workplace will be essential. State supported part-time work, internships and job sharing will also be part of the solution.
“We must not allow the present crisis to create a new cohort of long-term unemployed.”
Deputy Burke continued:
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“There is another compelling reason to have particular regard for the future job prospects of young people.
“The population of Ireland will age rapidly in the coming decades. If we are to maintain a high level of health care and social care in the years ahead we will need a dynamic economy with high levels of employment to provide a quality of life for all our citizens.
“During the lockdown there is a strong emphasis on protecting older people. We must not allow young people to be the long-term losers from the lockdown.
“I have spoken with Minister Regina Doherty and she has reassured me that her Department is already working on tackling the challenges of the post-pandemic environment.
“This will include the necessary measures to assist everyone back into the labour market, particularly our young people.”