At the same time as cutting €35 million directly from young people in Budget 2014, the government proudly announced €14 million for its Youth Guarantee scheme. The spin suggesting that this would seriously tackle youth unemployment only added insult to the injury of the robbery of young people through the dole cuts and introduction of fees for FAS apprentices.
Youth unemployment is a major crisis across Europe with over 5.5 million unemployed and rates of youth unemployment at over 50% in both Spain and Greece. The EU Youth Guarantee scheme has been introduced to enable the European Commission and the right-wing governments across Europe to pretend they are doing something about this crisis, when in actual fact what they are doing is making it worse through brutal austerity. This “guarantee” is a promise that any person unemployed or out of education for four months would be guaranteed a job, work experience, apprenticeship or training.
Sounds good in theory, but in reality it will turn out to be a largely empty promise. This is illustrated by the fact that according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) at least €21 billion would be needed, whereas the EU has only allocated €6 billion. When it comes to the implementation of it, it is clear that in many cases, it will simply be another excuse to push people into into exploitative schemes.
The emerging facts about how the scheme will be introduced in Ireland show how this is a guaranteed failure from the point of view of young unemployed people. While the government allocated €14 million, the National Youth Council of Ireland has estimated that implementing the scheme along the lines of the Swedish model would cost around €273 million! It was also widely discussed that instead of it being a guarantee for those unemployed for four months, it would be for those unemployed for six or eight months!
Since then, under criticism, Enda Kenny has declared that in actual fact there will be €200 million – with two thirds provided by the EU, and the four month guarantee will be met. €200 million of new money is very unlikely to be produced – instead there seems to be ‘creative accounting’ going on to simply re-classify existing money that was already being spent.
In any case, leaked documents from the Department of Social Protection and the Labour Party illustrate how they intend to meet the “guarantee”. The central part of the strategy is a further expansion of schemes like JobBridge and Gateway – where people are working for their dole plus €50 or €20. So this scheme will amount to a promise that if people are unemployed, they can instead opt to be be exploited for free instead!
The only real guarantee young people have is that if resistance isn’t organised to this economic and ideological onslaught against young people, things will get worse. People will be faced with a future of staying in Ireland with a choice of unemployment or a free labour scheme, or joining the 125,000 under 25 who have already emigrated in the last four years.
A movement to resist the normalisation of free labour and to fight for a real guarantee of decent work, meaningful training or education is needed.