James Doorley, National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) Deputy Director
There are 32,226 young people living in County Donegal and, with our growing youth population set to surpass one million by 2025, investment in universal youth services is more important now than ever. That was the message from James Doorley, National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) Deputy Director, speaking after the publication of the organisation’s pre-budget submission recently.
In its Pre Budget 2019 submission ‘Future Proof with Investment in Youth’ the NYCI, which represents youth organisations working with over 380,000 young people nationwide, is calling on Government to invest a further €11.5 million in universal youth work in Budget 2019 to strengthen voluntary youth work organisations, to provide more supports and activities for young people and to meet the needs of a growing youth population nationally and locally.
Mr Doorley explained: “The 2016 census results indicate that the number of young people aged 10 to 24 will increase by 13.2% between 2015 and 2025 and will be just over one million young people by 2025 (1,005,938), making Ireland one of the only European countries with a growing youth population.
“NYCI is of the view that wise investment in our growing youth population now would be the best way to ensure long term social and economic success and better secure us against potential economic and financial shocks and difficulties.
“Investment in youth work services from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) decreased by 31.7% over an eight year period, from €73.1m in 2008 to €49.9m in 2015. While funding for youth work from DCYA had recovered to €58.9m by 2018, mostly for targeted schemes, it is still 20% below that of a decade ago,” explained Mr Doorley.
“These severe cutbacks have left significant deficits and have put a strain on volunteers, staff and organisations trying to deliver quality youth services and supports for the growing number of young people, while also meeting the increasing level of governance requirements. The Government urgently needs to address the overall funding deficits in Budget 2019.
“In 2008, the investment in youth work services was €76 per young person. By 2014, this had collapsed to €58 per young person. So while there has been an increase in funding, the youth population is also growing significantly. This means the actual investment for 2018 comes to just €64 per young person – or just under €1.25 a week per young person. We propose that investment in universal youth work services should be increased to €85 per young person by 2020 - which amounts to €82m - to ensure every young person is able to avail of a youth work opportunity in their local community. In order to achieve this, Government must invest an additional funding allocation of €11.5m in Budget 2019,” said Mr Doorley.
“For every €1 spent on youth work, the state gets a return on investment of over 100%, according to an Indecon report on the economic benefit of youth work,” added Mr Doorley.
“Investment in youth work services will not just make a difference now, but will generate a social and economic dividend over the coming decades. As the title of our Pre-Budget submission “Future Proof with Investment in Youth” illustrates, the best means of securing long-term social and economic sustainability is investment in our people, in particular our growing youth population. We call on Government to make that choice in Budget 2019,” concluded Mr Doorley.