Foróige Youth Worker Gavin Byrne speaks at Conference on Youth Guarantee for West Dublin

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Foróige February 12, 2014

"The European Youth Forum published a paper entitled A Youth Guarantee for Europe and stated that youth organisations are most adept at providing ‘career focused training via non-formal education and developing a culture of entrepreneurship among young people’. And I would like to outline very briefly for you how this looks – and also to say that we have been doing this for a number of years. What are the capacities and aptitudes that employers are seeking from young people as they begin their working lives, what are called 21st Century skills?

Accenture published a report recently called ‘Closing the Skills Gap’. – the skills they outline are leadership, entrepreneurship, teamwork, creative and critical thinking, problem solving and innovation; these are those 21st Century skills. The very skills that enable us to thrive at work.

Through our Best Practice Unit, Foróige has been developing, piloting, evaluating and delivering various manualised programmes in our youth projects and clubs over the past number of years. Our NFTE Programme, (National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship) has engaged thousands of young people all over Ireland. Its aim is to enable young people, aged 12-18 to ideate and plan a business and bring it to fruition. Our Leadership programme – enables young people to develop the skills, inspiration, vision, confidence and action plans to be effective leaders and empowers them to make a positive difference to their society through the practice of effective leadership. And this programme is accredited by NUI Galway.

Our Technology programmes, TechSpace and the Computer Clubhouse, give young people the opportunity to explore their interests through technology – app development, coding, creative multi-media production, photography, animation, music and video.

In all of these programmes, we see young people develop those very skills that Accenture and others believe are essential in ensuring young people have the very best opportunities to succeed.

Youth work does this very well – firstly, it’s crucial that young people engage voluntarily – they want to be there. And secondly, youth work focuses on the needs and interests of young people. They engage with us, in a non-formal, after school setting, pursuing activities and programmes that they care about – they have an intrinsic motivation rather than an extrinsic motivation imposed by another. In terms of learning and education, we know that young people do best when they are doing the things that they care about and are interested in.

We have a big idea we would like to propose to you – a project that will tackle the now developing cycle of long-term unemployment among 16-25 year olds – a project that will build a culture of creative entrepreneurship in this community – a project that will provide young people with the opportunity to develop skills and build mastery in a chosen field.

Building on are expertise and experience we have in facilitating young people in programmes such as technology, entrepreneurship and leadership, we would like to establish a centre where young people aged 18-25 can ideate and establish a social or business enterprise.

To conclude, youth work is a natural and crucial partner in the implementation of the Youth Guarantee – we are ambitious for all young people. We must ensure that young people achieve the very best outcomes in their education, training and employment."

- Gavin Byrne, Senior Youth Officer in Blanchardstown

[In Dublin 15, unemployment has doubled from over 9% in 2006 to 18% in 2012. 26% of the population in Dublin 15 is under 15. The population of Dublin 15 is now just over 100,000.

Percentage of persons aged less than 25 ‘signing on’ as of October 2013 (14.7%), is actually a lower percentage than its equivalent back in October 2008, (1,174/5,304= 22%)

The live register fell from 1,851 to 1,182 persons (-669) for persons aged under 25 since Oct 2008, compared to 8,960 to 8,023 for everyone signing on (-937).

In other words persons aged under 25 accounted for 71% of the drop in the live register since April 2011 (669/937=71%). Finally the number of under 25s signing on as of October is only 8 more than in 2008]