CREATING JOB prospects and opportunities are among the key policies that election candidates here feel will help secure the votes of young people in the county.
Typically seen as covering the ages 18 – 26, getting young people out to vote in the first place has been an issue of debate – and while crossover issues may exist across all denominations, certain issues are of a higher impact to the young voter.
The second youngest candidate in this election, Paul Blake of the SDLP, who is standing in Erne North, said that the main issues facing young people centre around jobs and opportunities in the area.
“Young people returning from university saddled with debt with very little job prospects,” Mr Blake explained.
“So many of our young people are being forced to emigrate in search of employment and experience.”
Leanne Maguire, Sinn Fein candidate in Erne West, described it as ‘an extremely tough time’ for young people.
“It is said that for the first time ever, this generation of young people will be worse off than their parents, which is a scary thought.”
Ms Maguire went on: “From my engagements with young people, the main issues affecting them are the complete absence of any opportunities for part time employment to help fund their time in education and the soaring cost of living. There is then the problem facing people looking for full time permanent employment.
“Not enough has been done to help create jobs in Fermanagh and too many people have been forced to emigrate out of the county and out of the country in search of employment. We are educating our young people for emigration and that is simply not good enough.
“We are seeking the election of a strong Sinn Fein team to prioritise investment in job creation schemes, particularly in rural areas, to allow our young people to reach their full potential and build a life and live at home.”
Standing in Erne North, DUP candidate James Fleming said that there is ‘an underlying issue among the young people in Erne North in regards to schooling’.
“The main issues surround the Portora and Collegiate schools, with many in opposition to a merger, citing a loss of identity and a lowering of standards should the two schools become one.
“The views expressed were not only from current students, but those young people who having left school, could look back on the institutions which had forged their thinking and had prepared them for their entry into adulthood.
“It is a hot topic at the moment, and ties in with the long awaited Devenish College build.”
He also said that he has received a healthy attitude from young people towards voting.
“I was pleased to see young people who are interested in the electoral process and are keen to use that process to secure a prosperous future. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many young people excited about an election, giving their approval of the many new candidates, and suggesting they will be voting with a hope of seeing change as the council system is translated to the new super council.”
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