British Council research shows lack of jobs, precarity and low pay are the biggest concerns for young people in Northern Ireland

img_0227More than half surveyed say that lack of jobs and low pay are great challenges to young people

Study confirms growing lack of trust in government but appetite for political and social engagement and participation

January 8th: Unite the union hospitality organiser Neil Moore welcomed the findings of an all-island study conducted on behalf of the British Council.

“Young people are leaving education to enter a jobs market where the expectation is only them to take up low-paid, precarious jobs. This survey shows that for young people in Northern Ireland, the lack of decent employment opportunities is the biggest challenge that they face. The proportions of those surveyed saying that the lack of jobs, poor pay and insecurity were a challenge to a ‘great extent’ were 58 percent, 54 percent and 48 percent respectively; if you include those who saw these as challenges to ‘some extent’ the figure is almost nine in ten across all three areas. In Northern Ireland, unlike the Republic where the biggest issue was housing, those proportions dwarf any other issue reflecting the significance of work-related challenges to young people here.

“Meanwhile the faith in the political institutions across the board appears to be at rock bottom. In Northern Ireland, only two percent said that they trust Stormont while 36 percent of young people said they have no trust whatsoever in the institution.

“The failure of politicians to charter a way forward, or to even find a way to work together is leading to a growing pessimism but a growing indignation at the worsening conditions and workplace exploitation. While 42 percent expressed pessimism about the future of our society, young people in Northern Ireland exhibit higher rates of political and social activism with more having signed petitions or engaged in online activism or government consultations than in the Republic.

“The politicians need to listen to what young people are saying. We need action for decent jobs, with decent pay and decent job security. We need action so that young people don’t have to choose between emigration or the prospect of working decades in precarious low paid jobs at home. In the absence of such action, the best way to secure the transformative changes needed such as a ten pound hour, a ban on zero hour contracts, and an end to sexual harassment in the workplace; is to join a fighting back trade union like Unite, the only union that has a bespoke campaign for hospitality workers”, Mr Moore said.

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