The National Youth Council of Ireland has warned of a social and economic crisis if young people are not able to get a foot on the jobs ladder.
James Doorley, NYCI deputy director, said six out of ten young people in the labour market were now unemployed, with young women the worst affected.
CSO figures released last week show 59% of people aged 15-24 were unemployed in March – 64% of young women were unemployed, according to the figures.
Mr Doorley described these figures as “eye-watering”.
“At the height of the last crisis ten years ago we had 30% youth unemployment and that was a huge political crisis,” he said.
The NYCI has called for a national task force to support young people in getting back into jobs and education as soon as vaccinations allow the economy to reopen.
Mr Doorley pointed to the UK model, adding: “There doesn’t appear to be a plan from Government. We have a social and political crisis if we allow young people with talent and qualifications to not gain a foot on the ladder.”
Michael McLoughlin of Youth Work Ireland called for a better understanding of young people’s pandemic needs and said they should be brought into the decision-making process.
“The rules are generally set by people who are older, married or settled,” he said. “Subconsciously they just don’t feel the same way as young people, across all areas. They socialise more, they want to form attachments more.
“They’re not in the same space as people who are parents. These are two different worlds and we have to be a little bit more understanding.”
Both the NYCI and Youth Work Ireland have been calling for the PUP to be increased for young people as most are on the lower rate of €203 week.
YWI says adequate funds needed to be invested into youth recovery.
“We have a big enough stimulus package from Europe and children are supposed to be a priority area in that,” said Mr McLoughlin. “We want to see more resources made available in a targeted and directed way from that fund.”