Minister Says Quality Youth Work Must Play Role In Responding To Youth Unemployment

Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children & Youth Affairs has today said that quality youth work services should play a more central role in responding to the challenges of youth unemployment and marginalisation

The Minister was giving the closing address to a Symposium on 'exploring outcomes in youth work and related provision' which took place in Dublin Castle, hosted by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The Symposium was attended by over 180 youth work practitioners, policy makers and researchers in Ireland.

The Minister told the Symposium that there is a need for youth services to adopt a more targeted approach to supporting the employability and work-readiness of those not currently in the employment, education, or training (the so-called NEETs), a cohort who are subject of significant policy focus in the UK and Europe.

The Minister also spoke of the potential of youth work to respond to the serious challenges facing marginalised and at-risk young people as identified in the recent report of the Independent Child Death Review Group.

The Minister stated: "Having visited youth work services right across this country, I am continually impressed the fantastic and innovative range of programmes and projects being delivered for young people. However I am equally convinced that there remains much untapped capacity in the youth work sector when it comes to seeking to improve young people’s lives. Youth workers have known for this years, but policy-makers have been too slow to recognise the potential benefit on offer from quality youth work.

"The Symposium considered the importance of adopting a quality-focussed and evidence-based approach to youth work. It is in this context that I would like to support the youth work sector to respond to some of the big issues currently affecting Irish young people.

"Ireland has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Europe. We also have one of the highest rates of young people not in education, employment or training. This cohort, the so-called NEET's, must receive a greater policy focus in Ireland. I believe youth work has the tools to help this group, in particular through the provision of a valuable outreach and intervention services and through providing youth work- based programmes focussed on improving their skill-sets and employment readiness.

"Last month I published the report of the Independent Child Death Review Group. This report highlighted, in stark terms, the challenges faced by marginalised and at-risk young people. I would like to see youth work services being in a stronger position to support both our child protection and education welfare services to cater for the needs of these young people, many of whom may have left school and face significant difficulties in their young lives.

"I am currently in the process of appointing a new National Youth Work Advisory Committee and I will be tasking this group with identifying new youth work-based approaches to address some of these big issues. This will include mapping-out new and innovative policy responses for inclusion in the Government’s upcoming ‘Children’s and Young People’s Policy Framework’ which my Department is currently preparing.'


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