Belfast Telegraph

MLA urges action to ease youth joblessness

By Noel McAdam

Stormont Ministers have been urged to do more to tackle the scourge of youth unemployment in Northern Ireland - the highest in the UK.

New Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell came under fire in the Assembly from Ulster Unionist MLA Michael McGimpsey who said young unemployed people here should be offered the same deal as in Scotland.

Mr McGimpsey, the former health minister, said Northern Ireland's total for the economically inactive is already the highest in the UK - up by 4,000 in a year.

"Most crucially, our rate of youth unemployment is also the highest in the UK, up 3,000 from last year," he said. "Will the minister undertake to give the same deal to our young people as young people get in Scotland?

"In Scotland, when young people leave school, they are offered a place in education, training or employment. That way, we will not have an indictment on this House that young people in their hundreds and thousands are leaving school to go on the dole."

Mr Bell said he and Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry are developing a joint imitative because the jobs situation facing young people is of great concern.

"We have a strategy, which is called Enabling Success. That is what we want to do: enable success," he said.

"To do that, we have to tackle what the member rightly points out as being the high level of economic inactivity here.

"The strategy is going to look at how we can reduce persistently high levels of economic inactivity in Northern Ireland by helping economically inactive groups to make the transition towards and into the labour market.

"Key within those target groups are the long-term sick, the disabled and those with family commitments. In particular, I have in mind lone parents and carers."

Belfast Telegraph


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