Following the announcement of a rise in the number of people claiming unemployment benefit, NUS-USI President Adrianne Peltz has called for urgent action from the Stormont Executive, and also said that Education Maintenance Allowance must be protected. Information released estimates that the unemployment rate for people aged 18-24 is 23.5%, which is up 5.2 percentage points over the year.
Adrianne Peltz said: “It’s extremely worrying that it’s estimated that the unemployment rate for people between 18-24 is up by more than 5 percentage points over the year.
“This is the first time that a generation after their parents will actually be worse off than their parents were. We're being robbed of a future.
“The Stormont Executive needs to pull together on this because we're at the point of having a lost generation of both higher education graduates and people who are not in education, employment or training.
“Government needs to recognise that this is a crisis, and cross-departmental commitment and investment is urgently needed.
“These findings also underline the need for EMA to be protected. Plans were recently published to make significant cuts to this allowance and these figures highlight how devastating an impact these cuts could have.
“We need to support young people to enable them to continue study or start training courses. EMA is pivotal in the drive to keep people aged between 16-19 in study or training. It’s crucial that we upskill our workforce to attract new jobs here, and I hope that government pays heed to these figures and comes to the decision that maintaining EMA at its current levels is crucial.
“It is critical that government provides people with hope and opportunity. That is why I am issuing a call for urgent action, because the longer this situation continues, the more devastating the ramifications become.”