Thousands of men and women between the ages of 18 and 25, who are signing on the Live Register, are to be targeted in an effort to encourage them to gain additional skills and qualifications under the Back to Education Allowance Scheme.
Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin TD, said that Department officials across the country are launching a specially focused programme over the summer months to contact young people who may have been signing on the Live Register for more than six months.
Minister Hanafin said: “The end of June Live Register shows an increase in the number of under-25 year olds signing on, with over 48,000 now looking for full time work. Worryingly the number of under-25 year olds on the Live Register has increased by 42 per cent in the past year and this is something I want to see urgently addressed.”
Recent CSO figures show that over 14,500 people on the Live Register under the age of 25 have been on the Live Register for more than six months, with half of them signing on for between one and three years.
“This year there is a budget of €71 million available for participants on the Back to Education Allowance scheme,” said Minister Hanafin. “This scheme enables participants to receive a weekly rate of payment equivalent to their relevant social welfare payment while they are back in either second or third level education. This payment is not means tested. There is also an additional €500 paid to participants at the start of the academic year.
“Young people today have so many full time study opportunities available to them - if they didn’t complete second level education first time around or are looking to gain a recognised university or third level qualification. Now is the time for people to start planning and applying for an education course starting in September.
“It is not a trend the Government wants to see continuing, where more and more young people start depending on welfare payments as their only income. Officials across the country will spend the summer months identifying young people in their regions who would be eligible to go into an appropriate education or training scheme in the Autumn, in order to up-skill and enable them to improve their future chances in the jobs market.”
In the last academic year, almost 9,000 men and women availed of the BTEA, with over 2,000 under 25 year olds participating in educational programmes across the country while receiving a payment under the Back to Education Allowance Scheme.