EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Ireland: ERM Comparative Analytical Report (ERM) on young people Not in Employment, Education and Training (NEET)

  • Observatory: EMCC
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 06 February 2012



About
Country:
Ireland
Author:
Tony Dobbins
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

This CAR examines the situation facing young people in Ireland Not in Employment, Education and Training (NEET) as of June 2011. There is considerable interest among various stakeholders relating to the issue of NEETs, and a number of policy measures have been attempted. To date, however, most policy measures have been relatively small-scale, under-resourced, and not integrated together holistically. Overall, government has focused on trying to repair a failed banking system and tackle deterioration in public finances. Job creation and preservation has received insufficient attention, though the new government elected in February 2011 has signalled its intent here by launching a new multifaceted integrated jobs initiative.

1. Introduction

1.1 What is the level of interest among the different stakeholders in your country (policy makers, the media, employers and trade unions) in the issue of NEETs? What are their reasons for having a high/ low level of interest in the topic? (Expected length 100 words)

There is considerable interest in Ireland among the different stakeholders above regarding the issue of NEETs; notably the predicament of school leavers and young people generally in the Irish labour market. Unemployment among young people in Ireland stands at an estimated 28%. There is agreement that young people with lower level qualifications are being hit particularly hard by Ireland’s deep recession. There is acknowledgment of the serious risk of this low qualified NEET group of young workers continuing to expand rapidly as job market conditions remain tough and becoming part of a structural long-term unemployment pattern. At the other end of the qualifications spectrum, many young graduates with tertiary degrees are also struggling to find jobs. There is a gender dimension to the debate, in the sense that low qualified young men are deemed to be faring particularly badly. Various stakeholders have expressed concern that large numbers of those NEETs who can emigrate are leaving or will leave the country.

1.2 Using the following table, please identify which sub-groups of NEETs are of particular concern to the different stakeholders in your country. Please indicate the relative importance of each group to the different stakeholders; for each group please state whether they are felt to be of ‘significant concern’, ‘some concern’, or ‘no concern’ to the different stakeholders.

Table 1 – NEETs sub-groups
 

Public/media debate

e.g. the extent to which the issue is discussed within the news media

Mainstream Policy

e.g. the range of policy documents tackling the issue, the amount of investment committed to tackling the problem

Employers

e.g. the extent to which this issue is raised as a concern, e.g. through lobbying / pressure on the government, involvement in the design and/or implementation of relevant policies

Trade unions

e.g. the extent to which this issue is raised as a concern, e.g. through lobbying / pressure on the government, involvement in the design and/or implementation of relevant policies

Young people who are unemployed

significant

significant

significant

significant

Young people who are in ‘precarious’ or unsuitable employment (e.g. temporary contracts, forced self-employment, part-time work, or jobs which are not commensurate with their level of qualifications)

some

some

Limited-some concern. Many employers welcome flexible labour markets and atypical contracts

significant

Early school leavers – young people who have dropped out of education before obtaining an upper secondary level qualification

some

some

some

some

Young people with qualifications which do not meet labour market needs

some

some

significant

significant

Teenage/ single parents        
Migrants and minority groups

significant

significant

significant

significant

Young people with disabilities

some

some

some

some

Young people from workless families

some

some

some

some

Young people from disadvantaged areas

some

some

some

some

Young people with tertiary education who have been unsuccessful in accessing the labour market

some

some

significant

some

Other (please specify):

.

       

1.2 Are there any policy measures in your country targeted at those NEETs with tertiary education? If yes please describe these briefly (expected length 100 words).

As part of a broader ‘jobs initiative’, the new Irish government is to establish, from July 2011, a new National Internship Scheme providing 5,000 work experience placements in the private, public and voluntary sectors. This will be a time-limited scheme and will provide work experience placements for interns for a 6 to 9 month period. A weekly allowance of €50 per week on top of the existing social welfare entitlement will be payable for the period of the internship. It is understood the National Internship Scheme is aimed at graduates and other categories of NEET.

Details of the Irish government’s new ‘jobs initiative’ are available in the following link:

http://www.finance.gov.ie/documents/pressreleases/2011/mn018jobsinit.pdf

The main employers body IBEC has also introduced a new internship scheme for graduates described further below.

2. NEET Policies and Measures

2.1 Measures to tackle early school leaving

Preventive Measures to tackle early school leaving

2.1.1 Please provide a short overview of your country’s approach to preventing early school leaving. Where does the focus of policies and measures to prevent early school leaving lie?

The legal definition of early school leaving in Ireland refers to non-participation in school before reaching the age of 16 years or before completing 3 years post-primary education, whichever is later. A more specific definition of early school leavers is those who leave the education system without a minimum of 5 passes in the Leaving Certificate or equivalent qualification. Young people who leave education without recognised qualifications are at a disadvantage in the labour market and are at increased risk of poverty and social exclusion. One of the main preventative policy instruments in Ireland is the ‘School Completion Programme’ (described below), which focuses on those at risk of leaving school early.

2.1.2 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to prevent early school leaving in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 2 - Early School Leaving: Preventive measures
Early School Leaving: Preventive measures
Name of measure

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Preventing early school leaving among high risk individuals – using holistic measures.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Government led. Dept. Of Education.

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

State funding.

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

NEET specific (aimed at school pupils at risk of leaving school prematurely)

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Yes.

Measure 1:

School Completion Programme

Measure 2:

Home School Liaison Scheme

Measure 3:

Business in the Community Scheme

2.1.3 Please provide a more detailed description of the preventive early school leaving measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

  • When was it introduced and why? How long will it run for?
  • Is it a mainstream or pilot project?
  • What is the scale of the initiative and how much funding has been allocated to it?
  • Who runs the initiative (is it a public, private or third sector initiative)?
  • What is the target group? How many young people benefit from it?
  • What activities are involved?
  • What are the success factors?
  • Is there any formal evidence of its success (both quantitative and qualitative)?

The School Completion Programme in Ireland is a Department of Education and Skills programme which aims to increase the number of young people staying in primary and second-level schools. The programme is part of the Department of Education and Skills social inclusion strategy Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) to help children and young people who are at risk of or who are experiencing educational disadvantage. The programme provides flexibility for schools to develop more effective strategies, like out-of-school support and outreach, family support, mentoring, staff development and parental involvement. This initiative is an example of a long-term intervention programme, primarily delivered across the school setting and addressing all aspects of an individual's life - including education; life skills and extra-curricular activities (including hobbies, clubs and mentoring programmes.) The School Completion Programme in Ireland aims to have a significant positive impact on levels of pupil retention in primary and secondary schools and on pupils who successfully complete the 'Senior Cycle' and attain the leaving certificate. The 82 Projects involved encompass school supports, after-school supports, holiday supports and out-of-school supports (for those who have left the formal school system).

Reintegration measures to tackle early school leaving

2.1.4 Please provide a short overview of your country’s approach to the reintegration of early school leavers. Where does the focus of policies and measures lie?

For those people who have already left school and would like to further their education and training, there are a number of schemes in place in Ireland. These are non-formal education facilities that aim to provide high quality, relevant and efficient education and training opportunities outside the mainstream education setting. The main reintegration schemes are described below.

2.1.5 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to reintegrate early school leavers in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 2 - Early School Leaving: reintegration measures
Early School Leaving: Reintegration measures
Name of measure

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

State funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

NEET specific

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Yes

Measure 1:

Back to Education initiative

Measure 2:

Youthreach Programme

Measure 3:

Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)

2.1.6 Please provide a more detailed description of the reintegration early school leaving measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

  • When was it introduced and why? How long will it run for?
  • Is it a mainstream or pilot project?
  • What is the scale of the initiative and how much funding has been allocated to it?
  • Who runs the initiative (is it a public, private or third sector initiative)?
  • What is the target group? How many young people benefit from it?
  • What activities are involved?
  • What are the success factors?
  • Is there any formal evidence of its success (both quantitative and qualitative)?

Back to Education Initiative

The Back to Education Initiative provides opportunities for second chance education to adult learners and early school leavers who want to upgrade their skills. The initiative builds on existing schemes such as Youthreach and Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) - see below. It also includes adult literacy schemes, community education and Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses.

Youthreach programme

Youthreach is a joint programme between the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. It is intended to help young people return to learning and prepare for employment and adult life. It also provides them with opportunities to get certified qualifications. The programme is aimed at unemployed early school leavers aged 15 to 20. The Youthreach programme is delivered through Youthreach centres and FÁS Community Training Centres.

A similar programme is delivered through Senior Traveller Training Centres, which provide basic compensatory education for Irish Travellers over the age of 18. The centres aim to provide the Irish Traveller community with the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to successfully make the transition to work and adult life, and to participate fully in their communities.

Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme

The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) is a special range of courses designed to meet the education needs of unemployed people. The scheme aims to give them a choice of options from basic education and training to advanced vocational preparation and training. It targets people over the age of 21 who have been getting unemployment payments or signing for credits for at least 6 months. It is delivered through the vocational education committees (VECs) at centres all over Ireland.

Department of Justice workshop programme

The Department of Justice runs employment placement, education and training services for offenders where they can train to develop work-related skills. Many of the available training opportunities carry accreditation or certification for people who complete the required course to the approved standard.

2.2 Measures to facilitate access to employment

Facilitating the transition from school to work

2.2.1 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to facilitating school to work transitions. Where does the focus of policies and measures to facilitate transitions lie?2.2.2 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to facilitate school to work transitions in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 4 - Access to employment: Measures to facilitate school to work transitions
Access to employment: Measures to facilitate school to work transitions
Name of measure

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Tripartite

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

State funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

General but has impact on NEETs

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education?

No

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Not wholly, but this often tends to be the target

Measure 1:

FAS job search assistance and advice

Measure 2:  
Measure 3:  

2.2.3 Please provide a more detailed description of the school-to-work transition measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

  • When was it introduced and why? How long will it run for?
  • Is it a mainstream or pilot project?
  • What is the scale of the initiative and how much funding has been allocated to it?
  • Who runs the initiative (is it a public, private or third sector initiative)?
  • What is the target group? How many young people benefit from it?
  • What activities are involved?
  • What are the success factors?
  • Is there any formal evidence of its success (both quantitative and qualitative)?

The State training and employment agency FÁS provides guidance and resources for job seekers (often with an emphasis on NEETS) with access to job vacancies, online CV profiling for employers from all over Europe, and CV-to-job matching: http://www.fas.ie/en/Job+Seeker/Home/default.htm

The FAS Jobseeker Directory offers job search assistance aids such as an A-Z of Careers; Creating a CV Online; and Jobseeker Pack, along with information on Work Permits and Employment Rights. Jobseekers can also register at a local FÁS Office or Local Employment Services Office for on-site information, guidance, referral and placement services. FÁS has increased the range of training options available to Job Seekers to assist their re-entry into the labour market. Courses, such as Specific Skills Training and Traineeships which lead to major awards on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) will continue to be offered. FÁS also offers a number of Short Courses (typically 2 modules) as well as Evening Courses, Online Courses and Blended Learning Courses which lead to component certification and/or industry recognised certification. Working and Training Abroad are alternative options: the EURES job mobility database provides access to job vacancies in 29 countries, as well as practical information such as necessary documentation. FÁS offers dedicated services aimed at giving individuals an opportunity to participate in community life through community based work experience and training programmes. There are also Job Clubs where people can develop skills for job-hunting.

Measures to foster employability

2.2.4 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to fostering employability among NEETs. Where does the focus of policies and measures lie?2.2.5 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to foster employability of NEETs in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 5 - Access to employment: Measures to foster employability (to include apprenticeships)
Access to employment: Measures to foster employability (to include apprenticeships).
Name of measure

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

State funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

NEET specific

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education?

No

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No

Measure 1:

Redundant Apprenticeship Placement Scheme

Measure 2:

The National Internship Scheme

Measure 3:  

2.2.6 Please provide a more detailed description of the measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country to foster the employability of NEETs (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

  • When was it introduced and why? How long will it run for?
  • Is it a mainstream or pilot project?
  • What is the scale of the initiative and how much funding has been allocated to it?
  • Who runs the initiative (is it a public, private or third sector initiative)?
  • What is the target group? How many young people benefit from it?
  • What activities are involved?
  • What are the success factors?
  • Is there any formal evidence of its success (both quantitative and qualitative)?
  1. Apprenticeships

The State training and employment agency FAS offers a range of apprenticeships in different trades and crafts. Apprenticeships are available in trades such as engineering, construction, motor, electrical, printing and furniture. Apprenticeships alternate between off-the-job training and on-the-job training at the employer's workplace. An apprenticeship generally lasts for 4 years. Skills are assessed through on-the-job competence testing as well as off-the-job modular assessment and examinations and, if completed successfully, apprentices are awarded a FETAC Advanced Certificate.

  • Specific targeting of redundant apprentices in the crisis:

Since the crisis hit Ireland from 2008, FAS has introduced a number of small-scale schemes to assist apprentices (notably in the ailing construction sector) who have been made redundant to secure the relevant on the job training necessary to complete their apprenticeship. One such initiative is the ‘Employer Based Redundant Apprenticeship Rotation Scheme’, which was announced by the Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment in December 2008. Under this scheme eligible employers are being supported by FAS to provide workplace training and assessment for up to 500 apprentices who have been made redundant – primarily in the construction sector. Employers participating in the Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme are required to pay the apprentice the agreed industry rates for the specific apprenticeship trade and FÁS will make a contribution of €340 per week towards employment costs incurred based on a 39 hour working week for each week in employment. To be eligible for the scheme employers must not have made an apprentice redundant after the 1st January 2007. Employers participating in the scheme must not displace an existing apprentice. See link below for further details:

http://www.fas.ie/NR/rdonlyres/34CEE49A-5070-495E-AFA5-047A84EA60EE/433/EmployerBasedRedundantApprenticeRotationSchemebroc.pdf

In 2011, the renamed and expanded Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme 2011 (pdf) FÁS can place certain redundant apprentices with eligible employers and assist the employers with the employment costs of these apprentices. The scheme applies to apprentices in certain trades in the following sectors: Construction, Electrical, Engineering, Motor, Printing and paper. The Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme has been expanded in 2011 to provide on-the-job training for up to 1,000 apprentices. It was also announced that there would be up to 700 places in the Institutes of Technology for redundant apprentices and craftspersons.

  1. Internships

The National Internship Scheme (outlined above) is a government initiative designed to offer jobseekers who are on the Unemployment Live Register and have been in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance/Benefit or signing on for credits for at least 3 months, the opportunity to enhance their current skills and develop new ones. The duration of individual internship positions will be from six months to a maximum of nine months.

In addition, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) runs its own internship scheme to provide work experience for recent graduates. The Gradlink programme is designed to assist graduates to improve their skills during the current economic downturn.

Details: http://www.ibec.ie/gradlink

  1. Other work placements

The FÁS Work Placement Programme provides 9 months’ work experience for graduates and other unemployed people. The eligibility criteria for this programme were revised in December 2009. The Programme provides 7,500 places in the private, public, community and voluntary sectors. The placements are for a minimum of 25 hours per week. The programme is available to people getting most social welfare payments. There are 2 streams in the Work Placement Programme. Stream 1 offers places for graduates and Stream 2 offers places for unemployed people, with a number of these places reserved for those aged under 34. Placements are allocated to each FÁS region according to the number of people on the Unemployed Live Register in that region and are allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Removing practical and logistical barriers

2.2.7 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to removing practical and logistical barriers for NEETs. Where does the focus of policies and measures lie?

The previous government cut social welfare rates for young workers - the perception being that they were too high and act as a barrier for young people entering the labour market. The Supplementary Budget 2009 reduced the personal rate of Jobseekers Allowance for new claimants less than 21 years of age to €100, down from €150.

Under the new FAS operated Childcare Employment and Training Support (CETS) scheme, trainees undertaking a FAS vocational training course may qualify for a free childcare place for their child if:

• currently unemployed and wish to undertake a FÁS vocational training programme

• the main carer of a child or children

• need assistance with child care in order to take up a training opportunity

2.2.8 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to remove practical and logistical barriers to employment for NEETs in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 6 - Access to employment: Measures to remove practical and logistical barriers
Access to employment: Measures to remove practical and logistical barriers
Name of measure

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

State funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

NEET specific

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education?

No

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No

Measure 1:

FAS Childcare Employment and Training Support Scheme (CETS)

Measure 2:  
Measure 3:  

Employer incentives

2.2.9 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to incentivising employers to recruit young people (who are NEET). Where does the focus of policies and measures to incentivise employers lie? Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).2.2.10 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to incentivise employers in your country.

Table 7 - Access to employment: Employer incentives
Access to employment: Employer incentives
Name of measure

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

State funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

General measure

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education?

No

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No

Measure 1:

Employer Job Incentive Scheme

Measure 2:  
Measure 3:  

2.2.11 Please provide a more detailed description of the employer incentive which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

  • When was it introduced and why? How long will it run for?
  • Is it a mainstream or pilot project?
  • What is the scale of the initiative and how much funding has been allocated to it?
  • Who runs the initiative (is it a public, private or third sector initiative)?
  • What is the target group? How many young people benefit from it?
  • What activities are involved?
  • What are the success factors?
  • Is there any formal evidence of its success (both quantitative and qualitative)?

In June 2010, the previous government launched a scheme aimed at assisting employers to create new jobs for those out of work for six months or more. Under the ‘Employer Job Incentive Scheme’, an approved employer who creates a full-time position will be exempt from paying employers' pay-related social insurance (PRSI) for 12 months from the date of approval. When launching the scheme, the then Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen claimed the plan would save an employer in the region of €3,000 from the annual cost of employing an additional worker.

In May 2011, as part of its broader jobs initiative, the new government announced time-limited reductions in employers’ PRSI. Employers’ PRSI for new low-paid workers will be halved until the end of 2013 on jobs that pay up to €356 per week. This measure will take effect from 1 July 2011. The existing Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme above will remain in place until the end of 2011 so that enterprises and businesses that had planned to take on staff under this scheme in that period may continue to do so.

3. Conclusion

In recent years, influenced by EU policy guidelines (the Lisbon Agenda and so forth), the issue of NEETs has figured highly on the Irish policy agenda; notably though the formulation of successive National Employment Action Plans (NEAPS). There has consequently been considerable interest and recognition among various stakeholders relating to the issue of NEETs, and a number of policy measures have been attempted. To date, however, most policy measures have been relatively small-scale, under-resourced, and highly fragmented rather than being integrated together holistically in a complementary fashion. Since the financial and economic crisis hit Ireland in 2008 government has been preoccupied with trying to repair a failed banking system, tackle badly deteriorating public finances, and had to accept a bail-out from the EU-IMF. In this deflationary austerity context, job creation and preservation has received insufficient attention, though the new government elected in February 2011 has begun to signal its intent here by launching a new multifaceted integrated ‘jobs initiative’. Yet the sheer scale of Ireland’s crisis and debt greatly restricts the policy focus and resources the new government can direct to labour market problems like young people who are NEET. Also, national institutional changes relating to the crisis - notably the breakdown of Ireland’s social partnership model in early 2010 - has seriously restricted engagement between the government and social partners on active labour market policy for young people. In terms of what more could be done to address young people who are NEET, this is one area where some kind of reformulation of tripartite ‘social dialogue’ between government and social partners could be useful. In the meantime, unemployment stood at 14% in June 2011, and the labour market participation rate of young men, in particular, has continued to decline, with high levels of emigration returning.

Tony Dobbins, Bangor University

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