Ministers Burton and Quinn launch dedicated drive to tackle youth unemployment

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Youth Guarantee plan will help young jobseekers find work, education or training

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., and the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., today (28th January 2014) published the Government’s plan to implement the Youth Guarantee.

The aim of the EU-wide Guarantee is to provide young people under the age of 25 with a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a short time of becoming unemployed.

The implementation plan will see the Government launch a dedicated drive to provide the work, training and education opportunities that young jobseekers need. The plan details how the Youth Guarantee will be implemented over the course of 2014 and 2015.

Minister Burton said: "We have made good progress in restoring the economy to health and getting people back to work. Unlike in some other member states, where it’s close to 60%, youth unemployment in Ireland has fallen from a crisis peak of 33% to 25% now. But that remains unacceptably high and that is why the Youth Guarantee is so important. Research shows that spells of unemployment while young can leave permanent scars. We already have a lot of the component parts of the Youth Guarantee in place in Ireland, but we are going to build on them and ensure over time that young jobseekers get the opportunities they deserve to build the best possible futures for themselves, their families and their communities."

Minister Quinn said: "Education and training has a key role to play in delivering opportunities for young people who become unemployed. However, high quality education and training also stops the drift of young people into unemployment in the first place. We need to continue the good progress we have made in addressing early school leaving. Our young people deserve the best chance possible to get rewarding and fulfilling careers and we can help them along that path through the provision of top-class further education and training which has a focus on the workplace."

It was agreed at EU level that the Guarantee would be introduced from 2014 onwards on a phased basis in those member states facing the most severe financial constraints, such as Ireland. In keeping with the Government’s broader focus on tackling long-term unemployment, the plan targets interventions, in the first instance, at those young people most at risk of long-term unemployment.

Therefore, 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.

Starting in 2014, and for completion by the end of 2015, processes and programmes will be progressively rolled out to ensure that young unemployed people assessed as having a medium-to-high probability of finding employment will, if still unemployed after nine months, receive a Youth Guarantee Offer.

While financial constraints remain a reality in terms of roll-out, Ireland has the advantage of already having in place most of the key elements of a Youth Guarantee, as identified by the EU, including:

  • The reformed public employment service, Intreo, focused on helping jobseekers to find work, training or education
  • Apprenticeship and work-focussed training initiatives such as Momentum
  • State-supported Internships such as JobBridge
  • Targeted employment subsidies such as JobsPlus
  • Work experience options such as Tús and Gateway
  • Reformed employment services which combine the delivery of welfare with job search/guidance services and employer engagement (at Intreo centres and via JobsIreland)
  • A quality offer of second level education for all young people under 18
  • Second chance education/training options for early school leavers via Youthreach and Community Training Centres
  • Access to free third-level and further education programmes

In order to maximise the return from structures already in place, the Youth Guarantee builds on existing programmes. Among the new measures are:

  • As part of the Intreo process young people under 25 will be prioritised for case-officer support and personal progression planning
  • Reducing the threshold (in terms of duration of unemployment) for JobsPluseligibility from 12 months to 4 months  in the case of people aged less than 25 years
  • An additional intake of 1,500 young people onto the very successful JobBridge scheme as part of a developmental internship programme for the most disadvantaged young people.  This will be developed with the support of employers
  • Ensuring that 1,000 places on the Tús employment scheme are targeted at young people
  • Ring-fencing a minimum of 2,000 training places for under-25s on the successful Momentum programme

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 [see Table 1].

Minister Burton said: "While the Plan is ambitious in its scope, it is important to stress that the deeply ingrained problem of youth unemployment cannot be solved with the flick of a switch. It will take time and perseverance, involving ongoing investment and the sustained effort of State, employers, unions and jobseekers alike."

Ciaran Cannon TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Training and Skills, said: "To deliver the Youth Guarantee on a sustained basis, we need to change how we deliver education and training for our young people.  We are overhauling our apprenticeship system and seeing a major change process in our higher education institutions.  In addition, through SOLAS and the Education and Training Boards, we are getting the structures right to equip young people for the workplace. Each ETB is being tasked with identifying skills needs in its own region and responding to those needs with targeted educational and training opportunities developed in collaboration with industry."

Also speaking at today’s launch were Mr Stefano Scarpetta, Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs with the OECD, and Mr Martin Murphy, MD of Hewlett Packard Ireland and chair of the Labour Market Council.

The OECD was asked to examine the Irish context and provide guidance on the design and delivery of a Youth Guarantee based on the experience of other countries in designing similar strategies.

Mr Scarpetta said: "We note that the Irish Government is in the midst of a programme to re-organise and redevelop the public employment and training services and broadly support the initiatives that are under way, many of which have their origins in earlier OECD studies of employment and activation services not just in Ireland but in other countries. We were pleased therefore to be asked by the Irish Government to contribute to its work in developing a Youth Guarantee. The OECD is very conscious from our work in many countries that youth unemployment remains a major challenge as economies start to move out of recession. In Ireland the challenge is amplified, as the options available and the choices to be made have to be considered in the context of a wider challenge of long-term unemployment, the fiscal constraints within which the Government has to operate and the organisational capacity to implement new measures speedily and effectively.  Given these factors, it is important that you take a measured and targeted response. We have therefore recommended a phased approach to implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the use of targeted supports and incentives to different young jobseekers, building on existing schemes and services, in order to maximise impact."

The Labour Market Council is the expert group of industry leaders and policy specialists appointed by Government to drive the implementation of Pathways to Work, the Government’s wider strategy to tackle unemployment.

Mr Murphy said: "Pathways to Work is Ireland’s roadmap to ensuring that the unemployed jobseeker on the Live Register is job-ready, with skills that are in demand, so that they are well placed to compete for the job opportunities when they arise. I am confident that successfully implementing the Youth Guarantee will lift the ambitions of young jobseekers, make it easier and more attractive for employers to hire from the Live Register and provide an economic and social boost for our country generally."

Nationwide implementation will now get under way. Separately, first referrals have already begun on the Ballymun Youth Guarantee Pilot Project. The pilot involves an initial group engagement at the Intreo office followed by a referral to the Local Employment Service (LES) for a one-to-one interview with a LES officer where a detailed progression plan will be prepared. The result of this progression plan will be an offer of training, education, work experience, or a job within 4 months. All people aged under 25 on the Live Register in the Ballymun area are eligible for the Pilot.


Table 1:

Funding the Youth Guarantee in 2014

Taking existing and planned provision together, the table below sets out current estimates of programme uptake by young people in 2014 with associated programme costs.

Expected participation, activation programmes, 2014

Activation Programmes

Places to be taken up by young people in 2014

Indicative 2014 cost of youth provision (€million)

Youthreach/Community Training Centres



JobBridge (including planned reserve)









Momentum (*see note 1)



Back to Education Allowance (excl Momentum) (**see note 2)



Back To Work Enterprise Allowance



Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme






Youth Entrepreneurship Training and Mentoring supports



Micro-loans for young entrepreneurs



International Work Experience and Training






Community Employment






Other related programmes:



Post Leaving Certificate Courses (PLCs)









Vocational Third Level

It is estimated that at least 50% of the 41,000 entrants to third level each year are entering courses leading towards defined occupations


Overall total



(excluding vocational third level)

*Note 1 Excludes income maintenance costs tentatively estimated at €10 million.

**Note 2  Includes only income maintenance costs; most provision cost included in data for PLCs and Third Level under memorandum items

Last modified:28/01/2014