More job support needed for school leavers

MORE support is needed to help school leavers get jobs, according to Mid-Ulster MLA Sandra Overend.

The Ulster Unionist has urged the Enterprise Minister and the Employment and Learning Minister to “strive harder” to help create more employment opportunities.

She also congratulated all those who had received their A Level results. Latest figures revealed that 83.5% of students here achieved A*-C grades.

“This is a fantastic achievement and is to be commended,” said the Mid-Ulster MLA.

“Many students will now be receiving offers for colleges and universities in Northern Ireland, all over the UK, and even some further afield. Many of course, aim to gain successful employment as soon as possible. No matter what your choice, I wish all students the very best for their future.

“For those who did not get the grades that they wanted or needed, it is not the end of the world. There are a large number of options still available.

“Whatever you achieve, be sure to take time to discuss your options with a teacher or careers advisor, and consider your decision carefully. Our Careers Advisory service must be the best that it can be at this time.”

Sandra, who is also the Ulster Unionist Spokesperson on the Economy, said that despite the huge numbers of high achievers, outlook on the jobs market remained bleak.

“Regrettably the outlook for our young people going into employment is not particularly bright especially considering statistics released earlier this week: we know that there are 400 more people claiming unemployment related benefits in July 2012 in comparison to the previous month.

“That’s a year on year increase of 3,000 - the second highest region of all the 12 UK regions,” she said.

“When one considers the fact that Northern Ireland’s youth unemployment figures are worse than the UK average, I am naturally concerned that our young people leaving school are facing a very difficult time in finding employment, with there being much more competition for every place available.

“It is therefore encouraging to see so many Northern Ireland students achieving such good results. It is imperative, however, that the Enterprise Minister and the Employment and Learning Minister strive harder to help create more employment opportunities and to ensure that young people are equipped for the world of work.

“The Ministers also need to ensure they provide businesses with the help and support businesses need to grow and prosper and to provide employment opportunities.”

Sandra is now challenging both Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, and Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry to analyse employment figures “sector by sector” to identify areas for potential growth, and those areas which most require support.

“Action plans must then be drawn up and aggressively implemented to focus on those areas in a bid to tackle the month on month rise in unemployment claimants,” she said.

“Action is required now.”