Covid-19 disproportionately affected the employment and careers of young people, and solutions to get them back to work must now be prioritised as we emerge from the pandemic, a local TD has said.
Speaking after International Youth Day on 12th August, Deputy Emer Higgins said, “We need to acknowledge the issues facing young people in Ireland today and renew our commitment to tackling them head on. “The past 18 months have seen our young people sacrifice their working, social and family lives for the greater good of society. While the careers and jobs of many people were turned upside down during the pandemic, youth unemployment was hit the hardest.
“The average Covid-adjusted measure of unemployment in June was 18.3%. We only need to break this figure down by age to see how people under 25 are bearing the brunt of this unemployment. While the rate for those aged 25-74 was 15.5%, the unemployment rate for young people aged 15-24 was over 44%. “This figure of 44% includes people who are currently in receipt of the PUP. While many have been able to come off the PUP and return to their jobs as retail, tourism and hospitality have reopened over the past few months, the continued restrictions on the arts and entertainment sectors are having a very negative impact on the lives and jobs of young people.
“From musicians and night-life workers, to lighting technicians and theatre managers, many young people involved in live entertainment have not been able to return to secure employment. While continued restrictions are necessary in the interests of public health, these workers need to be able to plan for the future and begin to organise events for the forthcoming months. “Minister Catherine Martin has provided upwards of €60 million in supports for the sector to date, and I know she is currently working on a reopening plan for the sector. We need to see this plan published in the coming weeks, and ultimately the full return of live entertainment as soon as it’s safely possible to do so.
“On a broader level, activation of the Government’s Pathways to Work strategy will be key to getting young people back to work across all sectors. One of the four high level ambitions committed to in the strategy is reducing the youth unemployment rate, with the goal being to reduce the rate back to, or below, the 2019 average of 12.5% by 2023. “Innovative measures will be deployed to achieve this slashing of youth unemployment, including a €1,000 grant for people in receipt of unemployment payments to take short-term courses, as well as subsidies for businesses of between €7,500 – €10,000 to hire young, unemployed jobseekers.
“As we continue to emerge from the pandemic and people return to work, we must not forget our youngest workers, many of whom rely on secure employment to finance their education and housing. We can tackle this head on, but we must continuously renew our commitment to doing so in order to really improve the lives of young people in Ireland,” Deputy Higgins concluded.