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Varadkar said he does not want the country to lose another generation again.
Varadkar said he does not want the country to lose another generation again.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

Varadkar says it's 'extraordinary' under 35s are experiencing their second recession in their adult life

Labour’s Aodhán Ó Riordán said the country can’t afford to lose another generation.
Apr 22nd 2021, 3:09 PM 76,311 80

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has said people under the age of 35 are now experiencing their second recession in their adult life.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon about youth unemployment, he said it was “extraordinary”, but promised that the government is taking action. 

Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said with 59% of 15-24s not in work, there is a risk that Ireland will again lose a generation to emigration.

Even when the country reopens, young people are facing into job insecurity and high rents, with many “wondering why they should hang around”, he said. 

“We can’t afford to lose another generation,” he added. 

Varadkar acknowledged that the economic impact on young people has been huge, stating that they have suffered a lot in the pandemic. 

Jobs have been lost, lives interrupted, college and education disrupted, and the lockdowns have made it difficult for young people to make friends and build relationships, he said.

He told the Dáil that he did not want Ireland to lose another generation, stating that in the past, this has happened through “economic mismanagement”. 

Varadkar said there is a need to make sure “we don’t have a repeat of the last recession”, where young people left Ireland to find opportunities in other countries. 

He said the government will respond to the problems, highlighting the need for catch up programmes for those that have missed out on education, as well as expanding the number of third level and apprenticeship opportunities for people. 

As society reopens, the government wants to ensure that young people can get their jobs back, he added.

Ó Ríordáin said the Tánaiste had not mentioned youth unemployment once on Twitter since the beginning of this year, but had mentioned Sinn Féin 12 times.

He said a young person could come to the conclusion that Varadkar is not worried about young people and saving a generation, but is instead obsessed with a “political game with Sinn Fein”. 

“I think that is just a cheap shot… a very cheap shot,” said Varadkar, who said that only last week he gave a speech at the Young Fine Gael conference where he particularly highlighted what plans there were to tackle youth unemployment. 

He accused Ó Ríordáin of engaging in “virtue signalling”, stating that he was trying to make out that he is “a better person” and that he “cares more”. 

How many times someone tweets about something is not a reflection of how important you think a matter is, said Varadkar.

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Higher Education Minister Simon Harris met with the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) and Youth Work Ireland to discuss youth unemployment and reforms to the education and training system today.

Following the meeting, he said: 

“We know over 195,000 people aged up to 34 are on a form of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

“As we start to consider life post-pandemic, we must work together to ensure young people are at the heart of our economy and society.

“Within my own remit, we have invested €200 million in training and education, skills development, work placement schemes, recruitment subsidies, and job search and assistance measures, to help those who have lost their jobs find a new one, retrain, or develop new skills, in particular for emerging growth sectors.

“We have also placed an emphasis on apprenticeships with the publication of a new Action Plan on Apprentices and a scheme encouraging employers to take on apprentices.”

 

He said the government will ensure young people are at the heart of their plans for recovery.

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Christina Finn

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