Saturday, November 7, 2009

What Next for Ireland's Young?

To get back one's youth one has merely to repeat one's follies - So said Oscar Wilde.

Its an apt quote as south Ireland faces into a new era of large scale unemployment with the young being especially hard hit.

For decade after decade we exported our youth like they were cattle. It appears we are now on the verge of repeating this folly. Youth unemployment is rising dramatically and threatening to condemn another generation to a lost decade or to while their time away in another country.

What Next for Ireland's Young?

We are today beset by many crises in this country. The most serious crisis is of course the banking crisis and the money pit that NAMA represents - the crime of the century.

Attendant to that there are several other crisis - the structural crisis in our financial system where we spend more than we take in; the personal debt crisis coming down the line and the disaster that might happen if the ECB raises its interest rates (Although that seems to be unlikely for a while yet - but for how long?) etc.

With the economic mismanagement in this state having been so criminal its no surprise or wonder we are where we are.

Every sector of society, bar the influential minority able to distort the economy to their advantage, are hurting.

One demographic thats hurting particularly bad is young people. Its a grim time to be young in this state. Your chances of getting a job is low to none and if you do get a job then its more and more likely to be a part time job.

Young men have been especially hard hit by the downturn, with the unemployment rate rising to 40% for 15-19 year-olds and 30% for 20-24 year-olds. With no opportunity to get a job many of them are staying on in in education causing a sizable drop in labour force participation rates for those in the 15-24 year-old category.

The situation is grim all across europe / the euro zone. Currently unemployment for under 25s in spain has hit 41%. Thats a staggering figure. For the Euro region the rate in the euro region was 20.1 percent

In the medium term its likely that youth unemployment will continue to rise rapidly. The economy is likely to contract by nearly 2% in 2010.

Its a crisis thats starting to get some focus. Leading British labour economist David Blanchflower, who recently warned that the FF/Green coalition was driving the economy over a deflationary cliff, recently was reported in the Irish Times as having warned that Ireland, like Britain, faced the prospect of a lost generation. He highlighted research that showed those unemployed in there 20s are more likely to be unemployed, have lower health and generate a lower wage later in life. The problem with disadvantage is once you are disadvantaged you are always on the back foot and its hard to get your head above water.

How long will it be before they get back into the labour force and for those who do get back its more and more likely that they will be in part time labour. All across europe the % of workers in part time labour is increasing. Here its gone up by nearly 5%. Its going up because companies are trying to hold onto their staff rather than let them go, so drop them to part time. But the more part times we have the weaker the economy and the weaker the labour force and its power.

How are we going to solve this crisis.

Its a debate we have entered early with our jobs creation strategy and on economist Liam Delaney is commenting on it as well highlighting the fact that you can hardly condemn work experience programmes, or such active interventions into the labour market, as a failure when its FAS running them. Delaney recommends that the programme be simple be taken away from FAS. Considering the legacy of FAS is, frankly, a shameful legacy of graft and corruption, then it would be a good start. Lets give intervention and job supports an honest chance and not allow it be squandered by a failed organisation like FAS.

But if this state does not resolve the problem of youth unemployment then that will be another shameful legacy for a state tainted so much by graft and corruption.


  1. Good artcle An Giorra. To use the hackneyed phrase, we're going to need to think outside the box. The points about FAS are valid but we mustn't forget about who runs the agenda in this country and what type of agenda this is. Many talk about getting rid of FAS but want to replace it with fee paying schemes - yet another privitisation wheeze.

    I went to FAS over a year ago to find out about small business loans or grants. (Needless to say, I wasn't too clued up on 26 county govt dept strucutres, and there are no real grants or small loan schemes available anyway.) Maybe because I was there in such a capacity, the fella running office and myself got talking about job placement through FAS. Yer man was only focused on one thing - certs and diplomas. It was as if a piece of paper was magic and conferred years of practical experience.

    To cut to the chase, if a new agency, truely focused on basis of skill generation, comes about it should be based on practical experience with conference of certs as a rubber stamp of approval. A CV of practical accomplishments with certs as proof of practice after the fact is much more saleable. Also, this approach allows serious people who want to gain new skills or to upgrade their skills to obtain such skills in places like the UK, Germany, etc. They can then prove their proficiency through an Irish based cert scheme through practical examination techniques afterwards.

    (If a participant can afford to donate funds based upon some financial criteria, all well and good. These monies get reinvested in the program rather than go to private pockets as I suspect many economists over at irisheconomics would advocate.)

    Obviously there is much devil in the detail, but I want to keep the post short and sweet.

  2. What FÁS was brillient at was training people up for trades. sparks carpenters etc. that was fine when there was a building industry. the rest was just filler. some people are going on at the moment like that was some lost secret of fatima. it done what the people at the top needed in that respect.

    fás shold take what they do well, the model for trades and as near as possible transport it to other fields. beacuse they did do it well. but it would probably take an agreement at the top of where people want the country to go. i.e what do we want 10000 people trained up to do in the next few years. its a bigger question in this post building boom economy of ours of figureing out what we can do to make money. positioning etc.