Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Ards’ young people hit hard by recession

Ards has found itself almost topping the league of unemployed youths.

The area came second only to Larne in Northern Ireland for the area with the highest percentage of 18-24 year old unemployed claimants as a proportion of all claimants in the area.

In Ards, 32.6% of claimants were aged 18-24. Next came Limavady (32%), followed by Omagh (31.9%), Ballymena and Lisburn (31.7%), Craigavon (31.5%), Belfast and Magherafelt (31.4%) and Antrim (31.2%).

These figures are taken from a new analysis by GMB of the official unemployed claimant count figures for December 2010 from the Office for National Statistics.

The figures were described as “concerning” by Strangford MP Jim Shannon.

He said: “Last week in Parliament the debate was on Education Maintenance Allowance during which the coalition were attempting to remove the help given to young people to encourage them to stay in school for further education.

“This move by the coalition government could well push the figures to over a million young people unemployed. Here in Northern Ireland it is vital that the NI Assembly retains EMA.

“The SERC in Newtownards has 1708 students who claim EMA of which 50% of those are in the most deprived section and under 28% are in what could be called the more affluent section.

“This leaves over 70% of students in need of EMA to stay at college many of those young people’s parents gave never been to college but it is their hope that their children will stay in education and EMA helps them to do that.

“What is needed now is an initiative from the coalition Government that gives a future to young people instead of making it harder for them to be educated.

“They need opportunity, they need encouragement, they need jobs, they need further education and without this they will feel disadvantaged and abandoned — Government needs to address this and removing EMA will not help get more young people into suitable jobs.”

Eamonn Coy, GMB senior officer for Northern Ireland added: “In Northern Ireland there are nearly 18,000 young workers aged 18-24 claiming jobseeker’s allowance.

“When you add to that number the rest of the young people not in jobs but seeking work the real number is more than double that figure.

“In the UK as a whole the number of young workers aged under 24 seeking work is nearly a million.

“Young workers are the real economic victims of this banker’s recession. The government is in denial that it is deliberately creating unemployment on a large scale and has taken an almighty gamble with the UK economy.”

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