Two in three Derry youths still jobless after work scheme ends

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry.
Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry.

Around two thirds of young Derry people taking part in a £multi-million government back to work scheme are failing to find employment afterwards, the Journal has learned.

Figures obtained by this paper show that there have been 816 young people who have voluntarily signed up to the Youth Employment Scheme (YES) Foyle and Lisnagelvin offices. This covers the period from the scheme’s inception in July 2012 through to the end of July 2014.

Of these 812 who took part, 283 of the 16 to 25-year-olds found jobs afterwards.

It is understood that most of the employment secured is for over 30 hours per week and is paid employment.

The Minister for Employment Dr Stephen Farry launched the YES project as a series of measures aimed at helping young people aged 16 to 18 not in employment, education or training, and unemployed young people aged 18 to 24 to find and secure long-term jobs.

The various schemes involve many of the young people taking par in work placements of between two and eight weeks, while employers are paid hundreds of subsidies of £5,750 a year for upskilling them, provided the employers were in sectors deemed able to help rebalance the economy.

Minister Farry said at the launch two years ago: “The focus of the whole initiative is to ensure that young people who are currently unemployed are provided, at the earliest possible stage, with the skills to gain jobs, compete for jobs created in the future and retain and progress in those jobs.

“The measures will seek to ensure that no young person is left behind: we must build opportunity for all our young people regardless of their abilities and circumstances.”

He also said: “The success of this initiative for the young unemployed will also depend on the commitment of a large number of employers. The approach will be to ensure that a range of businesses and sectors are seen as equal partners with government in securing workforce development and economic growth.”

This year will see around 1,200 employer subsidies handed out across the north for those taking on YES recruits aged 18 to 24. The total cost of the YES project this year was estimated at £19.6m.

A spokesman for the Department for Employment and Learning said: “From the inception of the Youth Employment Scheme until 31st July 2014, 816 young people from the Foyle and Lisnagelvin offices have started on one or more elements of the Youth Employment Scheme. Of the above 283 (34.68%) progressed into employment.”