New approaches needed to get more than four thousand Galwegians back to work says Michael D

More than 4,500 young people out of work in Galway. It is a crisis which calls for “imaginative and constructive leadership” which the current Government “is not capable of providing”.

This is the view of Labour Party president Michael D Higgins, who was commenting on the figures which show that 4,676 people under the age of 25 in both the city and county cannot gain employment.

He said last week’s Budget failed to address the problem of growing unemployment.

“The biggest gap in the Budget was an absence of a coherent jobs strategy,” he said. “Fianna Fáil has been so fixated with the banks and the Budget, that they have utterly neglected the jobs crisis.”

Dep Higgins said the banking, budgetary, and jobs crisis are “interlinked and must be dealt with in a coherent manner”.

“The cost benefit analysis here is easy,” he said. “Every person off the dole is one fewer person being supported by social welfare and one more person paying into the exchequer. It is simply economically and socially unsupportable to have more 423,000 people nationally on the live register, with more to come next year.”

Dep Higgins said the Irish economy must be waned off its dependence on property and the focus put back on export-led growth.

“We need to create a structure of enterprise supports that are both wide and deep,” he said. “As the world economy begins to recover, new opportunities will open up for Irish business. This country can be a leader in the global knowledge economy, if we take the necessary steps now to support that change.”

He said a strategy for investment – in infrastructure and in companies is needed, including a new national development plan, to match more limited resources to strategic priorities.

He also said that not everyone can or will be employed in a software firm or a high-tech start-up so it is important that job opportunities are opened up across a range of skills, and across the regions.

“It is utterly unacceptable that so many people in Galway should not have a job,” he said. “The native creativity and genius of the Irish people is not just a cultural asset, it is an economic asset. Labour in power would seek to unlock those assets - we have done it before and we will do it again.”

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