Concern at the high level of youth unemployment in the country has been expressed by the National Youth Council of Ireland ahead of a meeting with government ministers today.

The National Youth Council represents organisations working with over 380,000 young people nationwide.

The group has renewed calls for a long-term plan from Government to tackle the issue ahead of their first roundtable meeting on youth employment with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Ministers Simon Harris and Roderic O'Gorman.

James Doorley, NYCI Deputy Director, said that while youth unemployment has declined from the very high levels at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, recent figures from the Central Statistics Office show that 25.6% of young people in the labour force are out of work.

Mr Doorley said the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the employment prospects of many young people.

"It is now vital that Government working with all stakeholders, including the youth sector comes up with an Action Plan on Youth Employment as we move into the pandemic recovery phase," he stated.

"It is vital that we provide young people with hope, but also with options and opportunities to get back to work," he added.

NYCI will be joined by its member organisations Youth Work Ireland and Foróige, who deliver a number of youth employment and employability projects around the country, at today's discusssions.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Mr Doorley said the NYCI has called on the Government to develop and implement an Action Plan on Youth Employment.

"This plan should include a credible and costed package to support young jobseekers into education, training, apprenticeships and employment and fund the youth sector and others to engage with those furthest from the labour market," he stated.

"The Government has a target to reduce youth unemployment to below 12.5% by 2023, we believe we can meet and beat that target, but only with a plan, coordination and additional investment," he added.