Too many of Dungannon’s young people are dropping out of school and work, a local politician has warned.
Latest figures released by the Department of Employment and Learning reveal that in April there were an estimated 400 Dungannon teenagers not in education or employment (NEETs).
Across Northern Ireland, the number of NEETS has been rising, and at 18 percent is already significantly above the UK average of 12%.
Sinn Fein MLA Bronwyn McGahan said she was deeply concerned by the high numbers.
In response to her raising the matter at the Northern Ireland Assembly, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said her department was addressing the issue through a range of targeted approaches and the appointment of Younger People’s advocates to engage with teenagers at risk of dropping out.
“The ‘Pathways to Success’ approach has a particular focus on helping those young people who face barriers to participation, while also dovetailing with complementary actions to tackle the wider problem of youth unemployment in the current challenging economic context”, she said.
“The initial round of funding for DEL-specific NEET interventions ceased at the end of March 2015.
“However, my department continues to support young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) through the new European Social Fund (ESF) Programme which runs from April 2015 to March 2018.
“‘Enabling Success’ is the NI Executive’s new 15 year strategy to sustainably reduce economic inactivity in Northern Ireland. Whilst primarily targeted at helping economically inactive adults of working age to make the transition towards and into the labour market, the Strategy also recognises the importance of early intervention, particularly in relation to young people not in education, employment or training.
“Subject to securing the necessary resources, one of the Strategy’s key delivery projects under the theme of ‘breaking the cycle of inactivity ’, is the appointment of a series of ‘Younger People’s Advocates’, on a regional basis.”