Care about Unemployment? Provide Jobs for Care Leavers
More than 350 young people aged 16 to 21 in care in Northern Ireland are not in education, employment or training at any one time.
Almost 3,000 children are in the care of the state here and only a quarter will go on to achieve five GCSE's (grade A*-C) compared with more than 80 per cent of the general school population. Overall youth unemployment remains consistently high at 17.5 per cent however for young people in care this figure doubles.
Independent research by academics at Huddersfield University has produced three different options for policymakers to consider, which if implemented could create 100 per cent employment opportunities for young people in care.
Provision of new jobs specifically earmarked for care leavers not in education, employment or training
Ring-fence a small proportion of existing jobs specifically for care leavers
A Care Leavers' Pledge calling upon employers to support care leavers
Professor Robin Simmons, who carried out the research on behalf of Business in the Community and Include Youth, said:
"Young people who have spent time in care are disadvantaged in terms of education, health, housing and family support and are particularly vulnerable to becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training).
"By age 40, the average cost to the state associated with unemployment can be estimated at £130,000-£150,000 per individual. Looking at young people from a care background specifically, long-term disengagement may amount to as much as £1m during the same period.
"This Project100 research presents not only a strong business case for improving the employment prospects of care leavers but other benefits too. The lives and future prospects of young people leaving care could be transformed by appropriate and sustained interventions such as those proposed in this report.
"In the context of Northern Ireland establishing 100% employment opportunities would require an extra 132 young people in care gaining a job each year."
Paddy Mooney, Director at Include Youth, said:
"Young people in care want to work; we know this from almost 30 years of providing direct employability support to them.
"However these young people have to overcome more barriers than most face in a lifetime and are disproportionately disadvantaged. That's why a customised approach like Project100 is required.
"Positive steps have already been taken to help improve care leavers' employment prospects but more sustained and cohesive interventions will ensure a permanent improvement in outcomes. Young people in care will feel the benefits of 100% employment opportunities and so too will government, employers and society as a whole."
"Responsible employers in Northern Ireland are committed to tackling societal issues," adds Kieran Harding, Managing Director, Business in the Community.
"With sound empirical evidence gained over the past three years from our Aiming Higher project and the detailed cost/benefit analysis identified in the Project100 research, it is imperative that business, government and the community work together to support care leavers as effectively as possible."
The research was commissioned as part of the Aiming Higher project, which supports young people aged 16 to 21 who are in or leaving care move on positively into education, employment and training. The partnership project is delivered by Business in the Community and Include Youth and is funded by Big Lottery Fund NI.
Media Enquiries: For more information contact Sharon Whittaker, Communications Officer at Include Youth, on 028 9031 1007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- To download the full Project100 Report click here
- Download more launch photos from Flickr.
- Aiming Higher is an employer engagement and mentoring programme delivered by Business in the Community and Include Youth that helps 16-21 year olds, who are in or leaving care, move into education, training or employment. It is funded by Big Lottery Fund NI.
- Include Youth is a voluntary organisation that delivers employability support to disadvantaged children and young people in Northern Ireland
- Business in the Community is a unique movement in the UK and Ireland of over 800 member companies (260 in Northern Ireland)
- Youth unemployment rate (percentage of economically active 18 - 24 year olds who are unemployed) was 17.5% and was, higher than the UK average rate (11.7%) [Labour Market Report, Feb 2016]
- See Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, 2015 Outreach for Positive Action: A Guide to the Law and Good Practice for Employers (p. 6-8)