Cork ETB call for youth funding to be restored to pre-austerity levels

Pictured at ETBI inaugural Youth Work Matters Conference held in Thomond Park, Limerick, were Des Murphy Change Programme / Youth Work Manager; Lisa Kavanagh Youth Work Specialist Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth; Ruth Griffin - Youth Support Service Manager and Paddy Lavelle General Secretary ETBI. The conference explored the impact and value of Youth Work in formal and non-formal education to empower young people and strengthen communities while calling for Youth funding to be restored to pre austerity levels. (Pic. Brian Arthur)

Ireland’s 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs), including Cork ETB, who 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 this week recently.

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, including Cork ETB, attended the inaugural national conference, Youth Work Matters, which was 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, Cork native and 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.