East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle said: “It’s vital that we give people opportunities to fulfil their potential. People need hope and the prospect of a positive future with a steady career ahead of them to help them reach their potential.
“Having some Tories negatively branding people who receive benefits is a disgrace and it betrays their lack of vision on this issue. The despicable comments of former Employment Minister Sir Reg Empey, labelling some young people ‘vampires’ indicates how out of touch and offensive some politicians can be on this important issue. We need to work with, and assist, people to help them into work.
“The Stormont Employment and Learning Committee has shown leadership on this by completing a wide-ranging inquiry on helping young people reach their potential, and the resulting report is set to be published in the new year with a view to prompting the Executive to deliver a cross-departmental strategy. The Prince’s Trust does an exceptional job but they need the support of a strategy from government on this.
“Northern Ireland needs a coherent and well-resourced strategy to help those who are the future of our country. We need more co-operation between government, colleges and companies to create more apprenticeships and work placement opportunities. The very least our young people deserve is hope and we need to help provide good job prospects. The Stormont Executive must not fail in it’s task – Our future depends on it.”