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Indecon. (2012) Assessment of the economic value of youth work. Dublin: National Youth Council of Ireland.

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Overall conclusions
This study, for the first time in Ireland, completed a detailed, comprehensive assessment of the economic value and contribution of the youth work sector. Indecon’s independent analysis found that the sector is substantial in scale and reach, with almost 383,000 young people benefiting from a wide range of programmes and services, provided by almost 1,400 staff and over 40,000 persons working in a voluntary capacity across the State. The sector operates within a very challenging economic context, with young people experiencing high rates of unemployment and social and economic exclusion, while significant numbers are at risk of poverty and the adverse long-term implications of drug and alcohol abuse, and involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour.

The results of the cost-benefit assessment of the economic value of youth work presented in this study suggest that the public funding provided by the State for youth work services represents value for money. Specifically, we estimate that over a 10-year period the benefits of youth work programmes would exceed the costs by a factor of 2.2. This reflects in particular the benefits of targeted programmes in the areas of justice, health and welfare, compared to a scenario where the absence of these supports is likely to mean that the State would face higher costs. It also reflects the strong volunteering effort in the delivery of youth work services throughout the State, the absence of which would mean that the State would face a substantially greater cost if these human resources had to be fully remunerated.

Policy decisions on the future development of the youth work sector should factor in these features and, in particular, the economic as well as social impacts of targeted interventions which address the needs of young people in a pre-emptive and holistic manner.

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