Robin Newton: Only 77 JobStart placements to date

EAST Belfast MLA Robin Newton has expressed his disappointment in the roll out of the Department for Communities JobStart Scheme saying, “the low number of young people recruited to the scheme is very worrying.”

The DUP MLA said “This £20 million budget scheme is an important initiative to tackle unemployment through funded work opportunities. We already know the Communities Minister did not follow the scheme introduced across the rest of the UK, instead delaying until April of this year in order to have a “bespoke” local scheme.

It’s deeply disappointing that the scheme so far has placed only 77 young people with employers. This scheme was aimed at assisting 16-24 year olds meet the additional challenges of gaining employment due to COVID-19. However, with figures from March this year showing over 28,000 young people not in education employment or training (NEET), the JobStart scheme has been a drop in the ocean.

This will be both disheartening and discouraging for our unemployed young people looking to take the first step in their careers.

It is right to question what impact the Sinn Fein Minister’s delay has had. At this point there does not appear to be any evidence that holding up its launch to address supposed flaws in the Westminster scheme has brought any benefits to young people in Northern Ireland.”

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