708. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the rate of youth unemployment here; the way in which this compares with the EU average, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54155/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The rate of youth unemployment was 14.0% in October 2017. This compares with the most recent available EU figure (from EUROSTAT) of 18.6% as at October 2017.

Reflecting the impact of government policy, and the overall improvement in the labour market, the rate of youth unemployment has fallen sharply from a peak of over 31.1% in 2012. At that time, the EU youth unemployment rate was 23.1%. Irish youth unemployment has thus fallen from well above the EU average in 2012 to significantly below the average at the end of 2017.

While this improvement is welcome, the Government recognises the importance of a continued focus on measures to facilitate young unemployed people find and sustain employment.

The key objective of Ireland’s policy response to the EU Recommendation on a Youth Guarantee is to help newly unemployed young people find and secure sustainable jobs. In this regard there is monthly engagement by case officers with young people to assist them to prepare, review and, if appropriate, revise personal progression plans. Where young people do not find work relatively quickly, additional supports may be offered, both through reserved places on existing employment and training schemes and through youth-specific measures. Most such offers (over 70%) are in existing further education or training programmes. Others are in existing community-based employment programmes such as CE, Gateway and Tús. Pathways to Work 2016-2020 continues to prioritise these measures for the young unemployed and further commits to a number of additional measures.

I am confident these measures, and continuing economic recovery, will support further reductions in youth unemployment and add to the substantial improvements that have already been seen over the last few years.