Editor's Viewpoint: Helping bring our young people hope
It is not difficult to feel sorry for what is being termed the lost generation of young people in Northern Ireland - those aged 16-24 who are unable to find a job. Around one in five of those in this age bracket are unemployed and many graduates - a degree was once almost a guarantee of employment - are out of work.
Our young people were not responsible for the economic crisis facing the country, but they are suffering disproportionately because of the mistakes of the adult generation.
There is nothing worse than not being given the chance in life. Some may squander their opportunities but many others will seize them with both hands.
That is what this newspaper's latest campaign is all about - giving young people some hope. We want employers in the province to help us create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days.
Already some of the best known businesses here are fully behind the campaign but we want more to follow our lead and take on a young person.
Of course many companies are struggling in these recessionary times and we understand their difficulties. But others can join the campaign which is supported by the Department for Employment and Learning.
We, as a newspaper rooted in Northern Ireland, feel it is our duty to make a difference to the lives of our readers, young and old. We are not simply railing against the recession but taking a practical approach to helping those most affected.
In this newspaper today you can read what young people currently engaged in apprenticeships feel about their career prospects and, equally importantly, what companies feel apprentices can offer them. It is a common complaint among employers that school and university leavers are not properly equipped for the world of work.
Apprenticeships offer employers the chance to create the sort of workforce they need and they offer young people something equally precious, hope. Make someone's dream come true and join our campaign.