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Youth Unemployment

Volume 589: debated on Wednesday 10 December 2014

The November labour market survey reports that the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland for 18 to 24-year-olds has come down 5% over the year, and the Government are directly helping to get young people into work by abolishing national insurance contributions for businesses employing under-21s and apprentices aged under 25.

The Minister will be aware that unemployment in Northern Ireland is much higher than the UK average, and a recent survey by the Belfast Telegraph found that two thirds of young people wanted to leave Northern Ireland. What specific steps is he taking to improve skills and training to encourage young people to stay in Northern Ireland?

Of course, these are matters primarily for the Department for Employment and Learning, with which the Government work closely. I hope the hon. Lady will be aware of the economic plan published 18 months ago in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Executive laying out the steps that we would take jointly to promote a shared and integrated future, including the creation of the further education college at Craigavon. Further such measures will be considered. The important thing is to increase the number of apprenticeships in Northern Ireland, and the national insurance contributions announced in the autumn statement are an important part of that.