Young, jobless and running out of hope - Nicole speaks out

Nicole O'Neill.
Nicole O'Neill.

An unemployed Ballymena woman says Government initiatives such as the Youth Employment Scheme (YES) are a poor incentive and of little benefit to young people who find themselves jobless.

Nicole O’Neill claims the YES Scheme is “financially unreasonable” and feels so strongly about it that she has written to the NI Assembly highlighting her concerns.

In her letter, a copy of which she also sent to this newspaper, Nicole writes: “I have recently become unemployed, which is not the first time due to the recession our town is severely suffering. I have GCSE’S, As/A levels, BTEC, NVQ’s and other well known programmes. I have, therefore, no choice but to claim Job Seeker’s allowance. I am not proud of this as I find it degrading and, for a young person, it creates no hope for my future.

“Recently I was made aware of “The Youth Employment scheme”. The government have put this into place as a form of progession for young people. Could someone explain how this is beneficial for myself?

“It is aimed to create the hope of £45 extra pay and a qualification that you will get a job. I have plenty of qualifications, no job or guarantee of any sort of a stable one especially in a town lacking new prospects.

“Would the government expect their children to do this programme? Would they expect their children to work roughly a 36 hour week for an extra £15.38 on top of Jobseeker’s Allowance? Please do the math, it isn’t financially reasonable.

“For someone in my position who wants to work, have goals and progress in life, do you think it’s fair?” states Nicole.

She adds: “I do not sponge off benefits...I just want a decent job which will go places. I’m sure there are others in my position who agree.

“I think the government should be aware of the real world. By helping young people who want to learn and progress in life. Give those type of people the chance. It’s time for idealistic progression for those with potential.”