Microsoft and Fasttrack to IT (FIT) have called on the youth of Ireland to avail of some 4,800 places on 250 courses planned to run this year as part of Youth2Work, a scheme aimed at defeating the spectre of youth unemployment.
As Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission, pointed out this week in Dublin, youth unemployment is becoming a serious issue in Europe – as high as 60pc among under-25s in many countries – creating a potential “lost generation.”
Launched more than a year ago with a €3m investment by Microsoft and a target to engage 10,000 youth through training, the aim of the initiative is to encourage, advise and assist unemployed youth in accessing appropriate training and attaining in-demand skills to compete for jobs and begin careers in the technology sector.
Aimed at 18-25 year-olds, Youth2Work has the support of SOLAS, Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and other training providers.
The programme has had a significant impact in year one, with almost 2,000 young people availing of training courses. Twenty-two per cent of these participants are now in either a full-time job or further internship following their course, and 40pc have gone back to full-time education.
“Through Youth2Work many youth in this country have now obtained full-time employment,” said Ciaran Cannon, Minister for Training and Skills.
“Today I’m encouraging the youth of Ireland to try something new and join a Youth2Work course.”
Some 106 courses were delivered in year one and the programme plans to deliver 250 courses in year two and to engage a wider audience of youth.
Be FIT to work
“The Government wants to make recovery local by getting Ireland working again. Programmes like Youth2Work, which support our ambition, are providing young people with new skills to secure jobs in one of the strongest growing sectors in the Irish economy toda,” said Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
“We have seen progress over the past year, with over 1,000 new jobs created every week, which has resulted in 20,000 long-term unemployed people moving into jobs. I know Microsoft and FIT have set ambitious targets for year two of this initiative and I’d encourage young people all over the country to find out from the roadshow or the fit.ie website what Youth2Work can do for them.”
As the programme moves into year two, Microsoft and FIT have an ambition to reach a broader group of young people in the next year, and grow the numbers engaged from 2,000 to 4,800.
The first stop of a roadshow featuring former champion boxer Bernard Dunne took place in the boxer’s former school in Clondalkin, Dublin. The roadshow will be visiting Donegal, Belfast, Athlone, Monaghan and Cork.
Last year, as the Youth2Work ambassador, Dunne undertook the mobile technology course over an eight-week period.
“At Microsoft, we have a long track record of finding sustainable solutions to critical challenges,” explained Cathriona Hallahan, managing director of Microsoft in Ireland. “In the past five years, the issue that concerned me the most was the high level of youth unemployment in Ireland. Our young people are the future of the country, of the economy and our society. We have a responsibility to give them opportunities for employment, education and entrepreneurship – enabling them to have a rewarding career and life for themselves.
“There is clearly an opportunity divide – those that have the skills and training that will help them get a job and those that don’t – we have invested in Youth2Work to overcome that divide. To date, as a result of engagement with Youth2Work, almost 2,000 young people have attained valuable industry-recognised IT skills – allowing them to progress into an internship opportunity, a job or to further education. We’re looking forward to spreading the word about Youth2Work this year and meeting lots of potential participants on the roadshow as it goes around the country.”
Tech learning image via Shutterstock