SOUTH DOWN MP Margaret Ritchie was speaking during a Westminster debate on youth unemployment on Wednesday.
She said, “For the last 20 years successive governments have instilled, quite rightly, the sense in young people that by investing in their education they are investing in their future career. To have them leave university into a stagnant job market is a fundamental failing. young people reliant on JSA is not just a waste of their own potential but a waste of money.
“Indeed, we must be aware of the economic cost that goes hand in hand with the social cost of youth unemployment. The London School of Economics found that each young person in long term unemployment costs the Exchequer up to £16,000 a year and The Prince’s Trust has stated that youth unemployment in Northern Ireland costs up to £4.5 million a week (nearly £250m a year). The economic cost of the failure to tackle this problem could not be more evident.
“The spectre of youth unemployment in Northern Ireland is of grave concern. People across the island of Ireland need no reminding of the damage to society caused when young people are starved of opportunity and they certainly need no reminding of the associated legacy of emigration and social depravation. The rioting in East Belfast over the past two nights, to some degree, shows the dangers within economically deprived areas with high levels of youth unemployment.
“Youth unemployment threatens the recovery, it restricts growth and ultimately it fails the young people who are needed to rebuild the economy across these islands,” added Ms Ritchie.