Conference on Youth Unemployment


Galway East TD Paul Connaughton this week attended a three-day conference on youth employment in Brussels, which heard how high levels of youth unemployment across Europe are affecting young people and discussed how best to tackle the problem.

‘I was asked by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to attend this conference, which focused on finding solutions to enable young people across Europe access work. The conference heard details of the nature and scale of the problem and discussed solutions and how they can be rolled out across Europe.

‘Over 4.5 million young people aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed across Europe. There is a huge variation between countries, from Germany with 7% youth unemployment to Spain and Greece with 49% and 50%. In Ireland the youth unemployment rate was 26% in March 2014 and now it is reduced to 20.6% but that is still unacceptably high and means that one in five of our young people are out of work.

‘Over one in ten of the young unemployed people in Europe are early school leavers and often they cannot access the jobs market because of inadequate skills. Apprenticeships and further education are key to giving some young people the skills they need to enter the marketplace. However, the vast majority of the young people currently looking for work have the skills necessary for the workplace, what they need is an opportunity to put those skills into practice.

‘The conference was addressed by Nick Jennett, a Director of the EIB and attendees at the conference were agreed that the European Investment Bank has a role to play in terms of funding programmes that are targeted at this issue. Small and medium enterprises are key to tackling youth unemployment and solutions to the problem will feature greater supports for SMEs employing young people and more targeted support for young people seeking to set up their own businesses.

‘It was a very worthwhile event, it was good to see the approaches used in different countries across Europe and how and why different programmes achieved success and I am hopeful that we can put some of the proven European solutions to work in Ireland and drive down the youth unemployment rate in Ireland.’