Her warning comes as Minister Joan Burton and MEP Emer Costello host a half-day conference promoting the programme in west Dublin. ‘While commitment to addressing the problem of youth unemployment can only be applauded,’ Ms Childers said, ‘we need to focus resources on long-term job creation for our nation’s young people.
‘What Minister Burton and Ms Costello are proposing is certainly not the dynamic, youth-oriented programme that I voted for in the European Parliament.
‘What have instead is a watered down, diluted version of what had been promised.
‘The Government’s proposed one-size-fits-all, transient model will do little to tackle the real issues at hand – which is that the jobs are simply not there.
‘Selling it to our young people as anything more would be misleading.’
The Youth Guarantee aims to offer under-25s paid-work, education or training within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving full-time education.
Last year, the Youth Council Of Ireland estimated that to guarantee work or training for all young people on the live register for six months or more would cost approximately €273million annually. However, in Budget 2014, the Government allocated just €14million to the fund. Even with the additional €30million-odd that can be claimed from Europe, it has been widely observed that a hard-hitting, impactful scheme is financially unfeasible.
Ms Childers, an independent running for re-election in Dublin this year, added: ‘The Youth Guarantee proposal is merely an elaborate rebranding of existing activation and training – so hardly an adequate response to crisis.
‘Creating jobs and real opportunities for those aged under 25 is vital for our nation’s future – and that should really take priority over the likes of internship and training programmes.’
Following the boom years, youth unemployment in Ireland more than trebled to a peak of just over 33 per cent in mid-2012. This figure now stands above the EU average at 25 per cent – but still lower than countries such as Portugal, Greece and Spain.
In particular, young Irish men have been harder hit than females, largely because of the collapse of the construction industry.