The shortage of housing and a lack of transport options are among a range of barriers preventing young people from finding jobs and entering the labour market, a conference has heard today.
The ESRI hosted a conference today on youth employment and highlighted other barriers such as substance use, homelessness, education, mental health and physical health.
The event is part of a European project called ‘Cowork4YOUTH’ which focuses on young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs), specifically those aged 15-29.
Ireland currently has record-low unemployment but many young people continue to encounter difficulties when it comes to finding jobs.
Delegates at today’s conference heard from Youth Work Ireland Tipperary, a youth employment initiative based in Tipperary town.
“There are positive things going on in Tipperary at the moment but for a long time it was left behind and there are some areas of the town which would have experienced up to 40% unemployment,” said Moira Merrigan, Youth Work Tipperary.
Ms Merrigan said that a revitalisation task force is in place looking at tackling issues around social inclusion but when it comes to young people finding work, access to transport and housing can create problems.
“There are a lot of young people who are couch-surfing, staying with family and friends, but don’t have a permanent or stable address, so obviously the capacity to work on their employment or attend education is really affected by that,” she said.
Bríd O’Brien, of the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, said that the expression “full employment” is an economic term that does not take account of those who may excluded from the labour market for a variety of reasons.
“People face a range of barriers when it comes to trying to access employment and that popular narrative of ‘oh, sure if you are not working it means you don’t want a job’, that’s not true,” Ms O’Brien said.
“A lot of people are looking for employment, they are not getting feedback. Sometimes maybe it’s the community they are from, or maybe a particular personal issue – there are challenges that are facing people,” she added.
Housing and high prices are also issues for young people entering the world of work after leaving college.
20-year-old Jack Flynn is an economics student at Maynooth University and was among those attending today’s ESRI conference on youth employment.
He said he will probably emigrate abroad when he graduates, primarily to gain experience but he does have concerns about what Ireland has to offer right now.
“The future can look a bit bleak sometimes, especially when you see house prices and inflation. Ireland needs to become a much more attractive spot for young people,” Mr Flynn said.