Working Notes journal explores issues facing young people in Ireland today

The journal provides a social analysis and theological reflection on issues facing Irish young people today.

Written by Rebekah Connolly


Working Notes is a journal published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The journal focuses on social, economic and theological analysis of Irish society, and looks at a number of challenges which can be experienced by young adults in Ireland today.

December 2017 issue

The December 2017 issue features four articles on the subjects of higher education, mental health, employment and job security, and climate change. These articles suggest that a lot of progress is needed in Ireland if the vision outlined in “Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures", the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People in Ireland introduced in 2014, is to become reality, and if the situation for many young people in Ireland is to be improved.

Young adults in higher education

The first article in Working Notes is “A Very Unlevel Playing Field: A Reflection on Young Adults in Higher Education” by Kevin O’Higgins SJ. In the article, the author writes about his experience as a teacher with the Jesuit University Support and Training (JUST) project in Ballymun, which encourages residents from Ballymun to enrol in university offers to them the support they need while completing their studies.

The article looks at the relationship between social inequality and educational opportunity and highlights “how improved access to education helps break the cycle of poverty which can impede a young person throughout their adult life.”

  • “The playing field on which young adults are formed is anything but level!” – Kevin O'Higgins SJ.

He explains how students from disadvantaged backgrounds in third level education have to compete with other students within their classes who come from a supportive family and home enviornment which further helps them in their studies.

You can find the article in full here

Mental health

The second article “Young Adults in Search of Mental Health” is written by Dr. Tony Bates, founder of youth mental health charity Jigsaw.

Dr. Bates argues that mental health is the number one health concern for young people and that almost all serious adult mental health disorders are present by 18 years old. He highlights the necessity for mental health services for young people writing; “The absence of safe accessible support can lead to a mental health crisis becoming compounded by dropping out of education, social withdrawal, reckless behaviour and a growing sense of helplessness and despair.”

  • “Mental health is the courageous struggle to step into and own one’s truth. To hide behind some socially desirable version of themselves, to play it safe, leaves a young person feeling empty. But to come out of hiding and risk sharing what feels broken with another takes guts.” – Dr Tony Bates.

You can find the article in full here

Youth Unemployment

The third article is “Republic of Opportunity or State of Insecurity?” by James Doorley.

In this article, James Doorley of the National Youth Council of Ireland highlights how many young adults struggle to find work and are in unstable employment conditions. He outlines the difficulties faced by young people who are unemployed in accessing the necessary training opportunities to take the next steps in their careers.

  • “Unemployment, while young, especially over long periods, can leave permanent effects in the form of increased probability of unemployment later in life and reduced future earnings.” – James Doorley

He further highlights how government cuts to Jobseeker's Allowance has left certain young people in a cycle of poverty, rather than encouraging them to look for work. 

You can find the article in full here

The challenge of climate change for young people

In the final article "Young Adults in a Climate Changing World", Catherine Devitt from the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice discusses how climate change and environmental decline will change the world for young people in the future.

She highlights how a youth perspective is needed in developing policy to address climate change, as they will be the ones most affected by it.

Devitt explains how climate change will present changes in policy and employment, and that education models will also need to adapt to prepare young people to work in this new, sustainable labour market.

You can find the article in full here.

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