Dáil Éireann - Volume 281 - 29 May, 1975

Ceiseanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - School Leavers' Employment.

31. Mr. G. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Labour the number of school leavers in 1974 who have not yet been placed in employment; and if a register is available showing the number of such persons in each area of the country.

Mr. Tully: It is open to all persons, including school leavers, to register for employment with the National Manpower Service but, as many school leavers do not so register the information available about this category of job seekers is limited.

However, a survey of 1974 school leavers was carried out by the National Manpower Service of my Department in early 1975. Information in respect of 71 per cent of last year's school leavers has been analysed and it indicates that approximately 7 per cent of that number were engaged in home duties or still seeking employment. I am seeking further information on the 29 per cent of school leavers for whom information was not available at the time of the survey.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Could the Minister give any indication of the numbers involved in the percentages he has given? He is saying that 64 per cent are in gainful employment or in higher education. Why was there so much difficulty in assessing the 29 per cent?

Mr. Tully: The answer to the first part of the supplementary question I cannot give. The information is that 64 per cent are in employment or in a higher level of education. The reason for the difficulty in regard to the balance is that they did not register and it was not possible to go around and find out where they were.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: It is strange to hear references to percentages and nothing about numbers.

[1289] Mr. Tully: I am giving the brief which I have got and I have not got that information.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I appreciate the difficulty the Minister for Local Government has but I am sure he is as concerned about the situation of school leavers generally as anybody else. It is strange to be talking about a percentage figure instead of actual numbers in respect of 1974.

Mr. Tully: I can give certain other information which I have but I do not think it is of very much further use to the Deputy.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Is the Minister saying there is information in the brief which is irrelevant?

Mr. Tully: It might be relevant to the Deputy.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Is it possible that it would be relevant to the people whose problems I am asking about? Could we have it, then?

Mr. Tully: According to the result of a survey for 1974 there were 35,952 involved, and I have given the percentage of that.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Is that the figure for which I already asked the Minister and which he said he had not got?

Mr. Tully: I have given it now.

Mr. Cunningham: The Minister is chancing his arm in Labour as well as in Local Government.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: That is the figure——

An Ceann Comhairle: We cannot proceed at Question Time by way of argument.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I am not being argumentative. I just want to clear up a point. The Minister mentioned the figure of approximately 35,500 school leavers. Was that 35,500 school leavers of 1974 who were not returning to education at a higher level?

Mr. Tully: The Deputy asked me for the total figure, which I have given him. The figure of 35,500 includes [1290] the whole lot. That is why I say it might not be relevant.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: That figure is for all school leavers, including those who went to higher level education?

Mr. Tully: That is right.

32. Mr. G. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Labour if his Department have carried out a survey to ascertain the number of school leavers in 1975 of primary, post-primary and third-level education standards and the potential employment opportunities available to them.

Mr. Tully: I understand that about 52,500 students are expected to leave primary, post-primary and third-level education this year.

The National Manpower Service are in constant touch with the official agencies concerned with employment-creation, namely, the IDA, SFADCo and Gaeltarra Éireann, about job opportunities in new and expanding enterprises. The service are also in regular contact with a wide range of employers in the public and private sectors for the purpose of obtaining particulars of employment openings in prospect. The information received through these contacts is used in the placement and guidance work of the service.

I believe that at the present time the limited resources of the service can be more usefully employed in this type of on-going activity than in forecast-type surveys. Besides, there is sufficient experience to know that such surveys would have severe practical limitations because of the frequent changes in the labour market and the inability of many employers to forecast their labour requirements even for a short period ahead.

The National Manpower Service have reported a disimprovement in job opportunities since last summer, but I am hopeful that the situation will improve later this year.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Could the Minister say if those 52,500 will go on to the employment market, or are a sizeable number of them expected to go on to a higher level of education?

[1291] Mr. Tully: I have not got the information. That information is not asked for.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: While accepting that the information is not asked for specifically, surely it is relevant to the problem that is being faced by the school leavers. I appreciate the Minister is only standing in for his colleague today, but would he ask the Minister for Labour if his Department would immediately look in various areas to see what opportunities they can create, even on a short-term basis, to give suitable employment to these young people during this period of recession?

Mr. Tully: I am quite sure the Minister is doing that, but one point Deputy Fitzgerald is missing is that unfortunately down through the years it has not been possible for many school leavers to get employment immediately they leave school. While the situation is worse this year, all school leavers did not automatically get employment in previous years. The Minister is as anxious as Deputy Fitzgerald is to ensure that as many as possible will be placed in whatever jobs can be found for them, and I am sure the National Manpower Service are doing everything they can.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: That is not the point of my question. We are expecting the manpower service to do the impossible. I asked the Minister if he would ask his colleague, as a matter of urgency, to seek ways and means of creating more opportunities——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should avoid repetition, please.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: ——over and above what would happen in a normal year. Is the Minister aware that the position is far worse than it has ever been? It is of critical proportions Yesterday's ill-timed announcement about the Civil Service was a further blow psychologically——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is making a speech. Question No. 33.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I have asked a question. Will the Minister ask his colleague?

[1292] Mr. Tully: He is already doing that. Every effort is being made to find employment. One would get the impression from some of the questions and from some of the newspaper articles that the only people who are entitled to be considered for employment are school leavers. They are entitled, but every effort is being made to find employment for as many people as possible. The whole House knows this, and Deputy Fitzgerald knows he is pushing an open door when he is asking me to try to get the Minister for Labour to do more about it.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I cannot see the open door.

An Ceann Comhairle: No. 33. I want to get as many questions as possible dealt with.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: We have already spent a half an hour on two questions. Could I ask the Minister, this year, particularly with the situation as it is, if he would consider it necessary that steps over and above the ordinary be taken to seek opportunities for these young people? We are not talking about a normal situation this year.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has said all that before.

Mr. Tully: I have already told the Deputy that efforts are being made to do this.

Mr. Cunningham: Could I ask if the Minister for the Public Service, who is responsible for employment in the State services, of teachers and so on, if they are not setting a bad example for other employers in the country by themselves depressing job opportunities, abolishing opportunities which were hitherto in existence, and, in the case of the Department of Education where there is a demand and a need, due to the increasing numbers entering post-primary education, for extra teachers, giving no extra employment in that Department as well as in other Departments of State and semi-State bodies?

Mr. Tully: Am I to take it Deputy Cunningham is suggesting that untrained [1293] teachers should be retained and trained teachers left unemployed? Is that the import of his question?

Mr. Cunningham: The Minister is an expert in the business of red herrings. I am not advocating that untrained teachers should be employed.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: No. 33.

Mr. Cunningham: But I am advocating—and would the Minister ensure that this is put into effect? —that where there are job opportunities and a need for the intake of people into the various services, including teaching, the Government will not close the door?

Mr. Tully: I love to hear Fianna Fail suggesting cutting down the numbers of State employees and increasing them at the same time.

Mr. Wilson: Would the Minister call the attention of the Minister for Labour to the relevant passage in the report of the Central Bank as to the social danger of having a large number of educated people unemployed and would he therefore suggest action along the lines that Deputy Fitzgerald has indicated, namely, State provision of employment?

Mr. Tully: I am one of those people who believe that whether a person is educated or not he is entitled to eat.

Mr. Wilson: Would the Minister, instead of wearing the traditional chip, make an attempt to answer my question?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: No. 33.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Would the Minister indicate——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair is not allowing the Deputy's question.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Could the Minister indicate what steps are being taken?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair is not allowing any further supplementaries.

Mr. Coughlan: What constitutes an educated person? The people with [1294] book knowledge need not come in here——

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Wilson: Inconsequential bluff. Rodomontade. The Deputy is living in the wrong age.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Is he abandoning the young people?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Would Deputies allow the Minister to answer the next question?

Mr. Coughlan: There are in this country skilled people——

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Coughlan should cease interrupting.