Appeal made at inaugural national ETB Youth Work conference in Limerick

Ireland’s Education and Training Boards (ETBs), which coordinate youth work for over 380,000 young people across the state, have called for the immediate restoration of funding to pre-austerity levels, at their first national conference held in Limerick today. Speaking at the conference, General Secretary of Education & Training Boards Ireland, Paddy Lavelle said: “Funding for the youth work sector has decreased significantly since the 2008 economic crash. In that year, funding for youth organisations and special youth projects was €90.5 million. By 2015, this had fallen to €50.53 million, a reduction of over 44%. While there have been small increases of 3% – 4% since 2020, and funding now stands at approximately €73 million, it is still significantly lower than it was 16 years ago, despite a 26% increase in the youth population since 2006.” “While the youth population has grown significantly over the past two decades,” he continued, “there have also been significant – and stark – social changes that impact on young people’s lives.

From the increase in the number of children living in emergency accommodation to the ongoing legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic on our most at-risk young people, the need for quality and extensive youth services has never been greater. That’s why we’re calling for the immediate restoration of youth work funding to pre-austerity levels, adjusted in line with inflation and population growth, and factoring in the increased cost of service delivery.” Over 150 youth officers, youth workers and stakeholders from around the country attended the inaugural national conference, Youth Work Matters, which was developed in partnership with Limerick & Clare ETB and held in Thomond Park. The conference programme included keynotes and panel discussions on the impact of youthwork, creativity and diversity and youth homelessness. Speaking at the conference, ETBI Youth Support Services Manager Ruth Griffin stated: “Over 380,000 young people benefit from the youth services provided by ETBs each year and youth work plays an essential role in ensuring social cohesion and improving outcomes for our young people from marginalised backgrounds. That’s why we’re calling for the immediate restoration of funding to pre-austerity levels.” “ETBs are excellently placed to play a central role in Ireland’s youth-work sector. They are at the heart of every community, reaching those on the margins and providing them with opportunities that enable them to either remain in or return to education or employment. ETBs enable the personal development of young people and are trusted across local communities because of their track record in delivering primary and post-primary education, and FET services” Ruth concluded.