Derry trade unionist and Sinn Féin candidate Liam Friel has called for a partnership approach between government and business to tackle youth unemployment.
Mr Friel said the local economy is being hampered by the high unemployment rate among young people.
“Dealing with the challenge of youth unemployment needs a partnership approach between government and employers. 22.3% of young people aged 18-24 are unemployed 30% of the total unemployed are aged 18-24. This represents a huge pool of talent and youthful ambition that is being lost to our economy.
“Skills accrued in the formative years through education need to be harnessed, expanded on and utilised quickly or they are lost forever,” he said.
The trade unionist also said a properly funded partnership between government and businesses is the only way tackle the problems of youth joblessness.
“I believe that a properly funded youth guarantee programme should be rolled out across Ireland. This would give out-of-work young people guaranteed access to paid employment or a useful training or skills development programme. My colleague Martina Anderson MEP is leading the fight for this in the European Parliament,” he added. The Sinn Féin candidate said the current government funded employment schemes may help reduce unemployment figures in the short term but do not offer a long term solution.
“To date, the Department of Learning approach to dealing with this issue has been overly dependent on schemes which deliver little return for young people.
“They are massaging the true impact of youth unemployment with young people placed in temporary, unpaid and often menial work to replace actual jobs.
“Instead of schemes what is needed is deliverable and quantifiable projects providing real opportunities for young people’s development to meet their full potential,” he said.