Four in five youth workers believe that the impact of Covid-19 will be long-term and will have a profound impact on young people and society. That’s according to the latest research published by the Irish Youth Foundation (IYF).
The report surveyed the country’s most at-risk children and young people, as well as over 300 youth workers across the Island.
As society begins to reopen youth unemployment is at an all-time high, with 59% of young people aged 15-24 currently unemployed. Youth workers believe that it will be even more difficult to get vulnerable young people back into work, with a significant decrease in employment opportunities.
The survey also revealed that we are currently facing a mental health crisis as a direct result of Covid-19, and that this will have lasting effects “if we fail to make immediate interventions.” A loss of morale and long-term aspirations has been identified by 70% of youth workers while 73% felt there was a lack of resources to support young people at risk of early school leaving.
Almost 90% of youth workers cited long-term mental health challenges as a key issue for the young people they support, while over 60% of workers say that loss of social skills or re-integrating back into normal society will be a long-term issue.
It also notes challenges associated with a lack of space. Youth workers noted that overcrowding and a lack of safe spaces amplified mental health issues for a number of young people around the country, and recommend the creation of safe spaces as a key solution in re-engaging and rebuilding young people.
Lucy Masterson, CEO of the IYF, commented: “As Ireland haltingly emerges from the pandemic, we predict that our most marginalised children are likely to be forgotten. Our findings prove that while we have been in the same storm, we most certainly have not been in the same boat. This is a stark warning to Ireland that a generation’s future is on the line.”
The survey found that young people are angry with the lack of engagement with their schools, feeling the system has let them down, and a high rate of dropping out from school is anticipated.
Youth workers play a crucial role in the lives of some 500,000 children and young people in Ireland each year. Of the 41,400 youth workers in Ireland, 40,000 are volunteers.
Lack of decent work
Meanwhile, new research published this week by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has found that Ireland’s young workers were six times more likely to be on temporary contracts than those aged over 25. It also sets out how people with disabilities, Travellers and East European migrants are at much higher risk of disadvantage around employment, and have less access to what the International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines as decent work.
The full report including the survey results by the Irish Youth Foundation can be accessed HERE.
The main findings of the IHREC/ESRI report can be viewed HERE.
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