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Armstrong welcomes youth employment scheme but says it should have been established months ago

Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has said while a new scheme for youth employment is welcome, it should have been established months ago.

The JobStart scheme, which was originally due last year, is designed to support 16-24-year-olds wo are facing difficulties getting into employment due to the pandemic. Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong said the delays in launching the scheme meant many who could have benefited from it may have missed out.

“The roll-out of this scheme is welcome, as it will help young people climb back from the pandemic financially, while giving the economy a boost, and I encourage them to apply for it,” she said.

“However, it is frustrating it has taken us so long to get to this stage. The rest of the UK benefited from it while Northern Ireland lagged behind, which was unacceptable. Something which would be so useful can only lose value as time moves on. During the height of lockdown, people under 25 were the most impacted in terms of job losses. Young people went from expecting a scheme to wondering if one would appear at all.

“In addition, I have asked at the Communities Committee for confirmation the Department will ensure opportunities from the JobStart scheme will be made available across Northern Ireland and will not just be concentrated around Belfast. If we are to make the most of this chance for change post-COVID, it is vital all areas benefit.”