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Young people are bearing the brunt of this economic crisis


At the worst point after the 2008 financial crisis youth unemployment in the Republic rose to 30 per cent.

The high rate triggered another period of mass emigration, something that we thought was behind us – a relic of less prosperous eras.

CSO figures released this week showed the Covid-adjusted youth unemployment rate for April was put at 61.8 per cent. Put another way, nearly two-thirds of those aged between 15 and 24 who are not in education are now jobless. By contrast, the unemployment rate among 25 to 74-year-olds was 18 per cent.

The risk of severe illness from Covid increases with age and the risk of economic harm increases the younger you are.

Young people have borne the brunt of the non-clinical economic impact of the pandemic. Jobs have been lost, lives interrupted, education disrupted.

Restrictions have made it difficult for young people to socialise, make friends and build relationships at formative points in their lives.

And even when the country reopens they are facing into job insecurity and high housing costs, raising the possibility of another period of emigration.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said recently there was 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.

We’ve talked about the possible scarring effects on consumers, but it’s really the scarring effects on the country’s youth we should be focusing on. This could have a lasting impact after the pandemic has abated. Extensive youth training and apprenticeship programmes, at which Germany appears to excel, should be a priority for the Government.

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In a speech in Dublin in 2017, former European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said Europe needed to tackle high youth unemployment to safeguard democracy, public trust and growth.

Europe’s ability to innovate may suffer, its cohesion is put at risk and the trust in public institutions could be undermined, Draghi said.

It was a warning that is doubly applicable now.




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