“It’s time to harness the potential of our younger generation when it comes to tackling the current range of economic and social problems. Instead young people are being consigned to unemployment and emigration, leading to rising tensions” according to the SpunOut.ie National Youth Organisation.
Speaking at the organisation’s May Day celebrations SpunOut.ie founder, Ruairí McKiernan, said young people are increasingly frustrated by the increasing lack of facilities, services, supports and job opportunities on offer to them. He says the youth of Ireland have the energy, ambition and ability to embrace these tough times but they must be met half way.
His comments come as the Central Statistics Office (CSO) announce their latest Live Register figures, which show an increase in the number of under 25s on the live register, growing from 40,980 in April 2008 to 80,763 in 2009, an almost 100% increase.
“We reach thousands of young people each week and the mood out there is one of frustration, anger and rising tensions. Young people have the necessary ideas, energy and skills but feel they are not valued as equal citizens when it comes to understanding and solving the current range of economic, health, social and environmental issues” he said.
“This is leading to social tensions and a missed opportunity for government and decision makers to tap the talents of a generation that is highly educated, well travelled and eager to participate in forging a new direction for the country.”
One young person who has been involved with SpunOut.ie for the last few years is Andrew Gibbons from Castlebar in Co. Mayo. Andrew, an NUIG graduate, found SpunOut.ie when he was at college has been a key player in the organisation’s development ever since. Andrew is currently among the rapidly growing number of unemployed graduates in Ireland and feels it is time for young people to be listened to.
“I’ve followed a typical path in terms of working hard to get a good leaving cert., going on to obtain a college degree and participate in the ‘Celtic tiger’ workforce, only to suddenly find myself having to sign on, along with many of my friends. It’s an extremely disappointing and frustrating experience. I feel that my hard work, skills and education are going to waste” said Andrew.
“At the moment the future doesn’t look particularly bright. I’d urge the Government to act now by investing in education and training and by supporting young people to become involved in the community as a way of gaining skills, experience and contributing to society. If nothing changes then the future looks grim and politicians can expect to feel the brunt of people’s frustrations when it comes to election time” he continued.
According to McKiernan, Andrew is not alone in his frustration and he believes that the government must wake up to the frightening possibility of another wasted generation.
He concluded “we are not going to get fresh thinking, ideas and innovation from the same people that got us into the current mess. We need to embrace the younger generation as a force for change and open up doorways for young people to participate in Irish life.
Some commentators have gone so far as to suggest young people should emigrate but this is foolish and short-sighted because they are in fact our main hope for solutions in building a better future. What we need now is a radical new approach to civic participation, where young and old from all walks of life are given opportunities to engage in decision making in their community and at national level. The alternative will, if the current pattern continues, result in missed opportunities and a bleak future for all.”