The Irish Congress of Trade Unions Youth Committee has called on the Government to “make youth a priority” in the forthcoming budget and introduce measures to tackle both high youth jobless levels and precarious work for those in employment. Speaking ahead of Budget 2016, Congress Youth Committee Chair Teresa Walsh said:“We need a range of measures in Budget 2016 that will begin to tackle the problems confronting young people, in and out of work. “Youth unemployment remains well over double the national jobless rate – and would probably be higher were it not for emigration – while those in work face low pay and low hour work practices that make it impossible for them to achieve a decent quality of life or engage in education and training opportunities.“Young people should not be penalised for the lack job opportunities and should not be worse off because of their participation in activation schemes, even poorly thought one such as Job Bridge. We need to see parity of welfare payments restored, regardless of a person’s participation in education, training or work experience.“The focus must be on creating sufficient opportunities and decent work for young people. The Youth Committee is fully supportive of initiatives such as the Congress Charter for Fair Conditions at Work, as a model for how we might make decent work a reality across the economy,” she said.“Investing in youth must be seen as an investment in our long term economic and social health, not as a cost and resources need to be made available to ensure the recently-launched National Youth Strategy, for young people aged 10-24 years, becomes a reality and not just an aspiration.Walsh said rising rents and the housing crisis were also a major concern for youth, with many ‘priced out’ of the accommodation market.She said the Youth Committee was prioritising the high level of training and education fees that were a barrier to advancement and was also calling for a ‘pay equalisation’ in the public sector, between young workers and their more experienced colleagues.