Humphreys ‘not thinking of introducing national service’

Humphreys ‘Not Thinking Of Introducing National Service’
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys was launching a charter aimed at encouraging businesses and employers to hire young people. Photo: PA Images
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Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said she is not considering implementing a form of compulsory national service as has been promised by the Tories in the UK.

Ms Humphreys ruled out the move at the launch of an employment and youth engagement charter in Dublin city which aims to reduce the number of people under 30 who are unemployed.


The unemployment rate is around 4.4 per cent, but rises to around 8 per cent for young people.

Under the Conservative Party’s plan, which would be implemented in 2029-30 if they are returned to government after the UK’s July 4th election, all 18-year-olds would be legally required to complete either a 12-month placement in the armed forces or cyber defence or give up the equivalent of one weekend a month to volunteer in their communities.

Asked if Ireland was considering a similar move, Ms Humphreys said: “That’s something that UK government are talking about, I’m not thinking about that.”



She said the charter with businesses and employers aims to “help people back into work” through engaging with them.

“The youth unemployment rate is at 8.8 per cent, which is down from 12 per cent pre-Covid,” she said on Tuesday.


“What we want to do is help people back into work, and there are barriers there that some people face, and we want to work with them, and we want to help them, and today we’re signing a charter with the businesses and employers, and we’re asking them to take on young people.

“There are incentives: you can have a grant of up to €10,000 for taking somebody off the live register, that is a young person or otherwise, anybody at all, actually.

“So it’s about helping people and I’m firmly of the belief that when you give somebody a job, you really give them an opportunity in life.”

There have been several reports that social welfare payments would be cut for those who do not engage with welfare authorities.


Ms Humphreys said she wants to “match” jobseekers with people who are looking for workers, and asked young people to engage with the support available.

“There’s never been a better time to look for a job. We’ll either help you upskill, we’ll retrain you, we’ll introduce you to apprenticeship schemes, we’ll give you the back to work help extra pay when you engage.

“If you don’t engage there has to be some penalties, but what we’re saying is engage with us.

“And if you engage and re-engage, we’ll restore your payments immediately if you have a reduced payment.”


The Government said the charter is a result of consultation with various stakeholders, including Ibec, the Labour Market Advisory Council Employer Sub-Group, the National Youth Council of Ireland and the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed.

The charter also aims to cater for jobseekers who find it hard to get an interview or experience, such as people with disabilities, older workers who lost their job later in their career, people who have spent time out of the workplace because of caring or childcare, and minority groups such as members of the Traveller or Roma communities.

Employers across multiple sectors and representatives of Ibec attended the launch of the charter in Accenture’s Dublin office.

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