Sinéad Pentony: In a submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education, TASC has looked at a number of key questions.
The submission provides an overview of unemployment, which clearly illustrates the scale of the crisis and who is being most affected. There are clear inequalities in the labour market within and between generations. Those previously unemployed in craft and related areas represent over one third of those who are on the live register and this group is more likely to have lower levels of education and skills. Almost one third of young people are unemployed. The reasons for this include a lack of jobs, low levels of education and training coupled with limited work experience and the fact that young people are more likely to lose their jobs in economic downturns.
The submission also considers the measures that Government is taking to address the problem, which includes reform of labour market activation policy – Pathways to Work, and the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs. These measures include some long over-due reforms, but they will not address the unemployment crisis, as it is primarily a demand-side problem – the demand for labour is less than the available supply of labour and addressing this issue requires a targeted programme of investment and economic growth.
Finally, the submission considers the issue of youth unemployment and puts forward a number of recommendations that include improving the quality of existing policies aimed at providing young people with valuable work experience and training; assessing the feasibility of providing a ‘Youth Job Guarantee’; assisting young people to become entrepreneurs; and targeted education and training initiatives aimed at young people with no formal qualifications.