Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Employment schemes just not doing the job

WRITING in your paper (Comment, September 11), Employment Minister Stephen Farry describes the Youth Employment Scheme as a success. The headline stated, 'Yes, our programme for jobless teens is working'. I cannot disagree with Mr Farry enough.

The department itself has acknowledged that it does not know whether the participants are successful in gaining employment from the employer they are getting 'work experience' from.

I feel there is enough evidence to suggest there is a risk of our young adults being used as free labour for struggling business.

A sample statistic, provided by DEL this year, showed that out of 512 participants taking part in the scheme, 170 had left to return to seeking unemployment benefit. A further 10 participants left the scheme with no information available on their current status.

We have no way of knowing if the participants suffered any sanctions, or financial hardship, for leaving the scheme.

Some of the work experience vacancies advertised to date for 18- to 24-year-olds include Chinese takeaway counter assistants, sandwich bar assistants, pizza-topping factory worker, beach cleaner and council litter warden. I am sure all parents would be disappointed if their son or daughter had to gain work experience serving in a Chinese takeaway for nine months and no reward.

Feeling good because you are gaining work experience does not pay your gas or electric bill.

AIDAN HANNA

By email

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