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Minister Burton launches National Employment Week

Tackling youth unemployment - Youth Guarantee plan will help young jobseekers find work, education or training

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, this morning (Monday, 24th February 2014) officiated at the launch of National Employment Week in Dublin’s Mansion House. National Employment Week, organised by Sigmar Recruitment, is a forum focusing on the major social and economic issues surrounding employment in Ireland. The focus of the morning’s proceedings was the Youth Guarantee Scheme.

Speaking with the attending HR Directors, Minister Burton said: “We are making firm progress in helping people back to work. Overall unemployment has fallen from a peak of 15.1% to 12.3%, and compared to one year ago, over 58,000 more people are now in jobs - the vast majority of them in full-time employment. We must continue that progress, and that’s why National Employment Week is such an important initiative, supporting employers to increase capacity to employ more people."

In relation to youth unemployment, the Minister said: “The aim of the EU-wide Youth Guarantee is to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a short time of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. The Youth Guarantee can be summed up in a single word: opportunities.  It’s about making sure we give our young people the opportunities they need to achieve their full potential.”

Over the course of 2014, processes and programmes will be progressively rolled out to ensure that young unemployed people who have a low probability of finding employment without significant support will receive a Youth Guarantee offer within four months. The Government expects to provide a Guarantee offer to circa 30,000 young people at the highest risk of long-term unemployment this year.

In Budget 2014, provision of €46 million was made across a number of Government Departments for the above and additional Youth Guarantee-related measures, building on the schemes and programmes already in place. In all, between new and existing funding, the Government will spend more than €500 million this year on youth employment, education and training.

The Minister also spoke of the new Steps Ahead mentoring programme, which is being developed in tandem with CIPD Ireland, the leading body in the field of personnel and development, and WorkLink. 

Minister Burton said: “Steps Ahead is a great example of how business is committed to getting this country back on track. It will involve HR managers in a wide range of companies giving their time and commitment to assist young jobseekers in getting back to work. It dovetails very neatly with the aims of the Youth Guarantee.”

The Minister also mentioned the range of supports available to employers from the Department. “As Minister for Social Protection, I have focused since coming to office on transforming the Department from the passive benefits provider of old to an active and engaged employment service. To give just one example of this, we established an employer incentive scheme called JobsPlus last July. Through JobsPlus, we provide cash grants to employers who hire people who have been more than 12 months unemployed to help them with the costs of salary.”

Since JobsPlus was launched in July 2013, it has helped to create 1,286 new full-time jobs. Participating employers have seen the potential of the scheme to help them expand their businesses, and realised the calibre of people on the Live Register.

“In the coming months, I hope many more employers do likewise, and throw their weight behind not just JobsPlus but the wider Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan, so that we can accelerate the pace at which we are getting people of all ages back to work.

“I’ve consistently stated that a fiscal response to the economic crisis was never going to be enough – that there had to be a social response too. The National Employment Week is a great example of employers stepping up to do their part in getting this country back to work.

“What we are asking for this week is some of that most precious resource – time. Take the time to look through what the Department of Social Protection can do for you to help expand your business. Take the time to think about how we can best serve your needs and tell us about it. With your help, we will get Ireland back to work,” concluded the Minister.


National Employment Week is sponsored by, Irish Times, CIPD and Sigmar Recruitment.