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Publication of the National Youth Strategy 2015-2020

8 October 2015
On Thursday 8th October, 2015, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly T.D., published Ireland’s first National Youth Strategy 2015-2020.  The event took place in the Bluebell Youth and Community Project, Dublin 12.
The National Youth Strategy 2015-2020 sets out Government’s aim and objectives for young people, aged 10 to 24 years, so that they can be active and healthy, achieving their full potential in learning and development, safe and protected from harm, have economic security and opportunity and be connected and contributing to their world.
One-third of Ireland’s population is under the age of 25, with young people between the ages of 10-24 representing 18.3% of the total population of 4.59 million. The National Youth Strategy focuses on this age group. It has a particular focus on young people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, the poorest outcomes.
The Strategy identifies some fifty priority actions to be delivered by Government departments, state agencies and by others, including the voluntary youth services over 2015 to 2017. These actions are designed to address matters that are a high priority for young people themselves. They  include issues such as access to online youth mental health services, a National Obesity Policy and Action Plan,  opportunities for those young people furthest from the labour market, youth entrepreneurship initiatives in schools and youth work settings and rolling out the National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making (2015) so that young people are consulted and have opportunities to have their say and be involved in the decisions that impact on their lives.
The National Youth Strategy was informed by consultations with over 4,600 people of which some 4,000 were young people under the age of 25. It was drawn up by Department of Children and Youth Affairs with input from youth experts, Government departments and statutory agencies that have policy responsibilities and interests in youth matters as well as the voluntary youth organisations and representatives from the business and academia.  Minister Reilly paid tribute to the national youth organisations and the their 40,000 volunteers who work with young people in local communities throughout the country.
Responding to one young person, who, during the national consultations earlier this year, said "If something happens to me or my family, I need to know that my government will be there for us." The Minister said "This Strategy is the Government’s response to that statement. It is an important milestone in youth policy and service delivery in Ireland and I am confident, with collective effort, that it will help create a positive, supportive and enabling an environment where all young people can flourish."
New Youth Employability Initiative
The Minister announced that, as a first step in delivering the National Youth Strategy, his Department was introducing a new Youth Employability Initiative. The €600,000 Initiative will provide grants to voluntary youth services for programmes that target disadvantaged young people to improve their employability.  Over 380,000 young people participate in youth services, programmes and clubs throughout the country. Young people who engage in youth work activities have the opportunity to attain specific skills which can enhance employability. These skills include learning to learn, social and civic competence, leadership, communication, teamwork, and entrepreneurship. These are the ‘soft skills’ that are relevant and applicable to industry and valued and sought after by employers.
The new Youth Employability Initiative will target those young people who are most at risk of unemployment and who are not in education, employment or training and provide programmes for them to enhance these skills.   It is anticipate that up to 20- 25 new youth projects and an estimated 200-300 young people could be assisted under the programmes.
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