Overall the unemployment rate fell by 10% between October 2014 and October 2015 with a drop in those unemployed from 866 to 774 during that period.
The number of young people unemployed (those aged under 25 claiming Job Seekers Allowance) fell by nearly a third from 333 to 237 during the same period.
The numbers of people classified as Long Term Unemployed (those who have been in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance for over 12 months) peaked at 255 in February 2014. Since then the measures put in place to assist individuals coupled with a strengthening labour market has seen the figure fall to 138, a reduction of 46%.
Graham Cregeen MHK, the Department’s Member with responsibility for Employment and Skills said:
‘Ultimately, the best way of helping the unemployed is to maintain a strong economy which offers a broad range of job opportunities. The results to date are therefore encouraging and are testament to both the current buoyancy in the economy and the additional actions the Department has undertaken in conjunction with Treasury to give tailored support to help individuals into work.
‘The effects of long term unemployment, in terms of impact on the economy, individuals and wider society are well documented. Protecting the vulnerable and helping people into employment, particularly those who have been out of work for a sustained period, is one of Government’s key priorities and my Department will continue to strive to achieve this goal.’
The Department has been working in partnership with Treasury (Social Security Division) on more effective targeting of resources and improving access to employment and training opportunities, through initiatives such as work placements, employability skills programmes, volunteering and one to one coaching.
A ‘Payment by Results’ Employment Project with a local employment agency (Recruitment Works) that started in October 2013 has also proved successful. To date 69 people have been placed directly into employment with the achievement rate for sustaining 6 months paid work continuing to exceed 60%. In excess of 100 further clients referred to the project are no longer claiming unemployment benefits as a result of the additional focus and support for their job search.
Mr Cregeen continued:
‘These results, although encouraging, highlight how important it is for us not to remain complacent. We will continue to work towards strengthening the economy through the creation of new employment opportunities and will maintain the direct support we are providing vulnerable groups through a range of existing and new initiatives.’