03 December, 2007 - Minister Haughey strongly endorses Inter-Agency approach to assisting Early School Leavers

The Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Mr. Seán Haughey, T.D. today strongly endorsed the inter-agency approach to assisting early school leavers that has been developed by two EU-sponsored EQUAL Youth Projects in Ballymun and Mayo.  Minister Haughey was attending the final conference of the EQUAL Youth projects at the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin.

The conference celebrated the findings of the EQUAL Youth projects over the last 3 years, which aimed to assist early school leavers in obtaining sustainable employment through access to quality services that enable them to secure appropriate training and educational supports.

The projects set out to achieve this by developing a model of inter-agency cooperation that addresses deficiencies in current services that inhibit progression into training and employment for young early school leavers.

Addressing the conference, Minister Haughey said "I strongly support the inter-agency model that EQUAL Youth has been working on.  We are all aware that many organisations are engaged in providing services to young people and these agencies are undertaking Trojan work on the ground, but our response to the needs of young people can be improved.  Services for young people must be led by the outcomes we all hope to achieve and there is a better way to help them than with fragmented actions and interventions."

Minister Haughey said a joined-up approach to further education and upskilling the workforce had been taken at Government level, with his ministry now being linked to the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Enterpise, Trade and Employment.  He said that this kind of cooperation creates a stronger network of support and helps generate new ideas.

"The experimental approach of EQUAL provides the opportunity to test new ways of integrating marginalised groups into the workforce, of preparing them for the world of work, and of upskilling those already in employment.  The programme has focused on creating innovative solutions to labour market problems, and looks, not necessarily at 'what' is being done, but also at 'how' things are being done.

"Early school leavers are becoming increasingly vulnerable in the labour market ? they spend more time looking for employment, the jobs that are available to them are lower paid and comparatively less secure.  If they become unemployed, they are likely to have to spend longer finding alternative employment.  All of this raises the prospect of social exclusion and generates a cycle that we are working to erase."

Minister Haughey concluded that this had been a very important project with many key successes and he thanked all those staff and young people involved in the project for their hard work and endeavour.