HC Deb 03 July 1985 vol 82 cc160-1W
Mr. Parry

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what was the level of long-term youth unemployment in the Province at the latest available date; and what were the equivalent figures in July 1979;

(2) what assessment he has made of the social consequences of long-term youth unemployment in the Province; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what plans Her Majesty's Government have for reducing youth unemployment in the Province; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Boyson

At 9 May 1985 there were 496 young persons aged under 18 in Northern Ireland who had been continuously unemployed for more than one year. A comparable claimant based figure is not available for July 1979 but 449 unemployed persons aged under 18 had been registered at Jobmarkets for more than one year at that date.

The Departments of Economic Development and Education have initiated a study, undertaken jointly by the Queen's University of Belfast and the policy planning and research unit of the Department of Finance and Personnel, of approximately 3,000 fifth form pupils from over 70 schools and colleges throughout Northern Ireland. Contact over three years will ascertain the educational and employment experiences of these young people and will provide social, psychological and attitudinal information on those unable to find work. The results cannot be available before 1987.

The Government's economic policies, which are designed to provide conditions under which industry and commerce can create sustainable jobs for young people, are supplemented by a number of initiatives. These include action for community employment (ACE) and enterprise Ulster, the enterprise allowance scheme and the young workers scheme. The main initiative directed at young people is the youth training programme (YTP), which has been created to ensure that there are constructive and worthwhile opportunities for young people and is designed to cater for the vocational education and training needs of all 16 and 17-year-olds. YTP has made a significant contribution towards reducing youth unemployment in Northern Ireland and I am confident that it will continue to do so. Since the programme began, more than half of the young people leaving full-time training schemes have immediately entered employment. The Government are keeping under review how best the programme might be improved in the light of developments in Great Britain following publication of the White Paper on education and training for young people.