EMPLOYERS need to work collaboratively with the Executive to provide work placements and opportunities to support our young unemployed people, said Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry.
He was today addressing employers at a breakfast seminar in the Titanic Signature building, aimed at promoting the new programme to tackle youth unemployment entitled Youth Employment Scheme (YES). The Minister called on employers to get involved in the scheme by providing sector relevant work experience opportunities which would be supported by employer subsidies.
The Minister said: “The ongoing difficult economic conditions have hit young people particularly hard. Without relevant recent work experience many of our young people, including those recently graduated, are finding it difficult to compete for the jobs that are available. The Youth Employment Scheme is a £31million package which provides employment and skills incentives to address the issue.
“Core strands of this new scheme include early intensive diagnosis of employability skills, work experience flexibly blended with skills training and a new employer subsidy worth up to £5,570 per year. This new employer subsidy will be for sectors which have the potential to help rebuild and rebalance the economy.
“In addition, we are investing a further £10million to deliver the initiatives set out in our NEETs Strategy - Pathways to Success to help those young people most marginalised in our society engage effectively with the world of work.”
SDLP Employment and Learning Spokesperson Pat Ramsey welcomed the launch of YES.
“I am pleased to lend my support to the YES programme which seeks to tackle the age old conundrum of 'Can't get a job without experience - can't get experience without a job'," said the Foyle MLA.
"The potential of our young people needs to be harnessed as a means of promoting confidence that institutions are seeking to deliver, but also to ensure that young people can put their hands to the wheel of economic recovery as it is clear they want to. The scheme initially offers 1,000 young people who are 18-24 years old the opportunity to avail of an eight week work experience engagement, rising to 3,000 engagements by March 2015.
"I want to urge employers throughout the North to buy into the scheme, which will utilise a bank of 800 £5,750 subsidies for businesses to give young people the opportunity to engage with employers and learn the ethos of regular work. We all have a duty to make a difference to this generation of youth people in what are difficult times for us all.
"This scheme needs to promote smart and welcoming non-financial incentives not only for participants, but for employers to ensure that any effort to bring young people into any sized organisation has mutual benefit."
Mr Ramsey said the programme, used as an early intervention barrier, can seek to address the growing young unemployment problem in our communities and in our economy. In addition to the work experience aspect of the programme, 400 training places coupled with additional sectoral based work experience of between six and nine months will be offered in sectors which the Executive have identified as key to rebalancing the economy - those young people will receive a training incentive of £100 a week.
"We as a society cannot afford to lose those young people to a bleak, jobless future," said Mr Ramsey. "It is incumbent on us to deliver for them."