Tackling youth unemployment in Northern Ireland

4 November 2015

With youth unemployment in Northern Ireland rising to 22% in 2015, NIACE is working with the NOW Group – a social enterprise providing training and employment services to young people in Northern Ireland – to tackle the issue and to improve understanding of ‘what employers want’.


The NOW Group is taking forward an approach trialled in other parts of the UK as part of NIACE’s role as National Co-ordinator of the European Agenda for Lifelong Learning. Following in the footsteps of What Employers Want, the NOW Group has trained and supported a group of 18-24 year olds to interview a range of employers – including Coca Cola, Google Ireland and The Mac Theatre – to find out about the skills, qualities and experience they are looking for from young people.


The NOW Group is the first organisation in Northern Ireland to use the approach and is utilising its expertise in supporting young people with a disability, to ensure different abilities and needs are well supported.


Nicola Aylward, NIACE’s Head of Learning for Young People, said:


“It is a pleasure to be working with the NOW Group for the first time and to be growing and strengthening our work to support more young people into sustainable employment. Once published, the findings of the project will be added to the range of information and resources available to young people and providers on our dedicated website – What Employers Want.”


Ann Osborne, Deputy Chief Executive of the NOW Group, said:


“The project fits perfectly with our organisational objectives of securing employment, using a co-design approach to programme development and measuring impact. Early wins for us have been seeing an increase in confidence, and improvement in communication skills, including one young person with communication difficulties who does not engage in one to one conversation, happily participating in a video blog. As in a lot of our work it is the unintended outcomes that can prove the most powerful.”


Emma McCabe, Employment Manager at the NOW Group and the project lead added:


“Working on the project over the last 3 months has been very exciting for the NOW Group and for our participants. Having the guidance and the resources from the pilot stage has been a great asset to our programme and has given us the confidence to reach out to employers that we would otherwise not have had the opportunity to engage with.”