Northern Ireland news

Young people in care are ‘twice as likely to be unemployed'

Managing director at Business in the Community Kieran Harding and director at Include Youth Paddy Mooney with (back, from left former care leavers Michael Doggart, Connor Arthurs and Tanya McCallen. Picture by Include Youth/Press Association 
David Young, Press Association

A YOUNG person in care in Northern Ireland is twice as likely to be unemployed as his or her contemporaries, new research has indicated.

More than 350 people aged between 16 and 21 in the local care system are either out of work or not in education or training, according to the study commissioned by Business in the Community and Include Youth.

The analysis found that of the 3,000 children in care only a quarter will go on to achieve five GCSEs grade A*-C.

This compares to more than 80% of the general school population.

The report by academics at Huddersfield University made a number of recommendations for Stormont.

They include ring-fencing a number of jobs for young people in care and asking employers to take steps to support those individuals.

Professor Robin Simmons, who carried out the research, said: "Young people who have spent time in care are disadvantaged in terms of education, health, housing and family support and are particularly vulnerable to becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training)."

He added: "The lives and future prospects of young people leaving care could be transformed by appropriate and sustained interventions such as those proposed in this report."

Paddy Mooney, director at Include Youth, said: "Young people in care want to work - we know this from almost 30 years of providing direct employability support to them.

"However these young people have to overcome more barriers than most face in a lifetime and are disproportionately disadvantaged."

Kieran Harding, managing director at Business in the Community, added: "Responsible employers in Northern Ireland are committed to tackling societal issues."

The partnership research project was funded by Big Lottery Fund NI.

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