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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.11 Current debates and reforms

On this page

  1. Forthcoming policy developments
  2. Ongoing debates

Forthcoming policy developments

In January 2018, the Minister for Education and Skills announced a review of career guidance in post-primary schools, further education and training centres and higher education institutions. 


The purpose of the review was to ensure there is a provision of high quality, relevant career guidance support service to all students from post –primary level up to further and higher education. 


The ‘Indecon Review of Career Guidance’ Report was published in April 2019.


The report contains 18 recommendations under four themes: 

  • improvement in career guidance tools and career information; 
  • better engagement with enterprise;
  • Inclusion; 
  • enhanced governance structures.


The recommendations emphasise the need for evidence-based reform and the involvement of all stakeholders.  


Report recommendations include: 

  • Establish a support organisation with a new approach to guidance services which makes best use of digital and online technology.
  • Strengthen and promote a user-friendly centralised careers portal.
  • Initiate supports for employers to facilitate career guidance such as visits to industry and schools, guest lectures and quality work experience.
  • Provide access for special education and adult learners to the proposed enhanced central career support services, including information on labour market opportunities.
  • Promoting inclusion by prioritising the allocation of resources, including guidance teachers for learners most in need of assistance. 

In response to the report, an internal taskforce has been established, chaired initially by the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills, to examine each of the recommendations and develop a prioritised implementation plan. 


Ongoing debates

Rising unemployment

Coivd-19 and the responding public health measures resulted in the largest monthly increase in unemployment in the history of the Irish State during March 2020 (The Initial Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Ireland’s Labour Market, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, 2020). Almost 1 in 4 people claiming Pandemic Unemployment Payments in late-March and 1 in 5 in April, were under 25 years.

Amongst 15- to 24-year-old there was a seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate of 18.9% for September 2020 (Central Statistics Office, 2020). The Covid-19 Adjusted Monthly Unemployment Estimates by Upper Bound was 36.5%. This figure includes those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payments and assumes that those receiving this payment would otherwise be on the live register (i.e. this is the ‘Upper Bound’ figure).


Long-term youth unemployment

There is an ongoing debate on long-term youth unemployment. The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), in a 2019 pre-budget submission, raised concerns about the 8,915 young people who were long-term unemployed (for 12 months or more).  


While Ireland has a lower than average EU youth unemployment rate, a 2017 Eurofound Report highlights Ireland's higher than average long term youth unemployment rate.  


NYCI has called on the Irish Government to ‘increase investment in the education, training and access to apprenticeships to halve long-term youth unemployment by the end of 2019.’


Equality for young job seekers

In recent years, social welfare payments to young unemployed people under 26 years of age were reduced to a lower level than adult unemployed people. 


NYCI has called on the government to restore the full adult rate of €198 to young people on Jobseeker’s Allowance over the next two budgets. According to NYCI, ‘the imposition of lower rates on young jobseekers is contrary to the provisions of Article 40.1 of the Irish Constitution, which dictates that all citizens should be treated equally and must be addressed.’


Young people in precarious employment

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) has raised concerns in recent years about young people in precarious employment in the labour market. This includes young people engaged in internships, temporary work, part-time jobs, zero-hours contracts and sub-contracting. A 2013 Eurofound report found that the number of young people aged 15-24 in temporary employment in Ireland increased from 11.2% in 2004 to 34.9% in 2012.


In its policy proposal, NYCI calls for a “Fair Work Certificate” for employers who want to avail of public funding or grants for job creation. A Fair Work Certificate would be similar to the Tax Clearance Certificate. According to NYCI, it would ensure that public funds are only given to employers that support decent pay, and stable and good quality employment.


Youth Guarantee 

In its 2019 pre-budget submission, the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) calls on the Irish Government to review current implementation of the Youth Guarantee and to set out ambitious targets for delivery of the initiative from 2016-2020. 


NYCI is concerned at the overall slow pace of implementation four years into the process. They are in agreement with the report of the European Court of Auditors on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee scheme in Ireland which found that the results to date from the Youth Guarantee in Ireland ‘had fallen short of expectations.’


Lack of career guidance teachers 

There is an ongoing debate on the lack of career guidance teachers in secondary level schools. The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) have called on the Irish Government to develop a National Strategy for a Comprehensive Guidance Service for Young People in its policy proposal.


There is also a debate on the lack of guidance counsellors for young people with special educational needs in special schools.