Dublin Labour MEP Emer Costello has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D. that the Government is to advance plans during Ireland's EU Presidency next year for a European Youth Guarantee to help reduce youth unemployment.
Under this idea, within four months of becoming unemployed, a young person would be guaranteed a job offer, an apprenticeship, training or combined work and training.
Ms Costello said: "Long periods of unemployment is extremely damaging for every young person concerned, in terms of future salaries, career prospects, and reducing their dependency on their families. It is also bad for society at large, with the EU putting the 'cost' of youth unemployment at €100 billion in 2010, or 1% of our combined GDP.
"A Youth Guarantee is not a magic bullet for our youth unemployment crisis but it is based on best practice in countries such as Austria and Germany which have youth unemployment rates of roughly 8%, compared to Ireland's 30% and an EU average of 22%. It is part of the solution to the youth unemployment crisis and should now be considered more widely.
"I understand that the European Commission is planning to come forward with proposals for a Youth Guarantee in early December. I hope the Government will seek to flesh out and adopt these proposals during Ireland's presidency.
"In particular, we need to ensure that young people are offered quality pathways to employment. I would urge the Government to prioritise the adoption of a Quality Framework for Internships in Europe, which the Commission is also due to propose in early December. We must also ensure that the needs of harder to reach young unemployed such as people with disabilities are taken into account.
"The International Labour Organisation has estimated that it would cost 0.2% of our combined GDP to introduce a Youth Guarantee. The Party of European Socialists estimates that a €10 billion investment in a European Youth Guarantee could produce four million new jobs by the end of 2013. It may be possible to fund a Youth Guarantee from the European Social Fund or by redeploying unspent EU Structural Funds.
"At the end of August, the European Commission issued a call for proposals for 15 Youth Guarantee pilot projects. I have written to both Ministers Burton and Quinn urging them to ensure that applications from Ireland are submitted before the 22 October closing date and I welcome the fact that this is being actively considered.