Youth training and employment schemes in Sweden, Iceland and Manchester could offer ideas to help get Irish young people into employment - ideas were exchanged during a three day international conference at Dundrum House Hotel recently.
Features of the Irish system also came in for praise from the international visitors, and exchange links have ben forged.
Speaking after the conference, Donal Kelly of the Tipperary Regional Youth Service told The Nationalist that the conference was a great success and they hope to make it an annual event.
Among those who attended were 18 from other European countries and eight Irish youth workers.
“It’s very interesting to hear about the things happening in other countries,” Donal said, “for example in Iceland 98% of young people aged 16 to 18 work during the summer, before leaving school. They are a small country so the attitude everybody has is to pull their weight or the system doesn’t work. They were where we are and have come out the other side.”
Among the Irish speakers at the event were David O’Donnell and Mary O’Keeffe who set out the Irish situation, explaining development schemes and the ‘contract’ a person enters into when they take up Job Seekers benefit. Tom Ryan of the VEC explained the Irish education system. Dr Fergus Heffernan spoke about mental health and the affects of unemployment.
The conference also looked at the TRYS ‘Work Winner development model, a Swedish development model and the Manchester model ‘Grow Your Own’ which trains troubled kids and brings them on to eventual employment. Studies have shown that for every £1 invested there has been a return to the UK state of £17. The scheme is being rolled out across the UK.
TRYS is now working in partnership with the Manchester group.
One of the most memorable speakers at the conference was 23 year-old Mairead Maher, from Borrisoleigh, who spoke about her participation in the EVS scheme. On the scheme she lived in Finland for a year and said that it helped her grow up, grow in confidence, and literally changed her life.
Any young person can take part in the scheme, just contact the Tipperary Regional Youth Service.
The European attendees at the conference loved the Irish hospitality and thought some of our youth scenes were very good, Donal reported. In particular they were blown away by the CYTE project in Clonmel and wanted to know how they could replicate that in their own countries.
The goal of the conference was to increase employability of young people and it is hoped that some young people from Tipperary will now travel to the European cities with which links have now been made.