The Government seem keen to play up reductions in the numbers on the live register which is of course welcome, but this masks the reality of regional and youth unemployment. In July 2017 there were 32,237 people under 25 signing onto the live register.
There is an urgent need for new solutions as the current State response is not working. It is leading to a generation who have no hope of employment or of access to third level education after finishing secondary school.
For many young people not currently employed there are very few opportunities outside formal education to obtain skills and experience that will benefit them in the future. The apprenticeship scheme is a vital element to tackling this.
The regional disparity in unemployment figures means that rural areas are not only hit by high numbers of people without a job, but these same people are very often far removed from any centres for training.
Those who are unemployed experience added difficulty accessing training due to associated transport and sustenance costs.
Sinn Féin’s plan to increase apprenticeship programmes from 30 to 100 will give people the option to upskill and gain valuable experience in a wide range of industries.
This will also benefit the businesses themselves. It is a win win situation but once again, the political will is needed to drive this on.
I am calling on local TDs to give this initiative their full support in order to see it come into effect as soon as possible.