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Contents for Issue March 2019

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Recent Government Policies

"It is important to remember that people who are unemployed are not a homogenous group and that a broad range of options need to be available to assist people to enhance their long-term employment prospects"

Action Plan for Education 2019

On March 7th, 2019 the Government published the Action Plan for Education 2019. On page seven of the plan it very usefully says “We place the learner at the centre of education strategy and policy development and value learning as a public good, in light of its core role in the development, cohesion and wellbeing of an inclusive society.” On page six they also note “A progressive and equitable education and training system has the power to transform lives - the transformation begins with the individual, and moves outward: to family, to community, to society.”

So in terms of people who are unemployed what has this plan to offer? The only reference to people who are unemployed is on page fourteen of the plan where it describes the role of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection as “to support unemployed and economically inactive people into employment, through engaging on planning literacy, numeracy and basic skills provision, particularly in the context of the implementation of the European Council recommendation of Upskilling Pathways for Adults”.

On page thirty-seven, under Action 59, which aims to support and promote lifelong learning and upskilling, it says:

-           “Expand the EXPLORE programme, which helps to address the issue of Ireland’s low level of participation in lifelong learning amongst the workforce in Q4.
-           Commence implementation of the “Skills to Advance” programme enhancing the skills of adults currently with low skills levels in Q4 lead by SOLAS, ETBs.
-           Support the implementation of "Upskilling Pathways – New Opportunities for Adults", the EU Initiative to help low skilled adults acquire basic levels of literacy, numeracy and digital skills in Q4 by SOLAS, ETBs.
-           Expand Skillnet Ireland provision in key skill areas, including the establishment of new learning networks, providing training to small business owner managers and developing new certified programmes in Q4 by Skillnet Ireland.”

However, it is important to remember that people who are unemployed are not a homogenous group and that a broad range of options need to be available to assist people to enhance their long-term employment prospects. Under Goal 4, which aims to “intensify the relationships between education and the wider community, society and the economy”, there are two indicators of particular note.

-          Skills, upskilling and re-skilling: Number of Springboard+ places; Number of Skillnet learners.
-          Lifelong Learning: % of adults aged 25-64 who participated in formal and or non-formal learning, annual average (Eurostat)

If you wish to read the full document please follow this link https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Corporate-Reports/Strategy-Statement/action-plan-for-education-2019.pdf

Future Jobs Ireland 2019

In the last e-bulletin there was an article entitled ‘Future Jobs: Preparing Now for Tomorrow’s Economy’, available at https://www.inou.ie/newsandupdates/newsletter/2019/01/24/future-jobs-preparing-now-for-tomorrows-economy/

On March 10th, 2019 the Government published Futures Jobs Ireland 2019 and there are clear links to the Action Plan for Education as addressing life-long learning and skills gaps are an important aspect of Future Jobs Ireland 2019 (FJI). Under the Lifelong learning Key Performance Indicator, the FJI notes that the latest score was 8.9% (2017) and they aim to double it by 2025, to 18% (Targets table p51). It also says that it will move the % of population with basic or above basic digital skills’ from the latest score of 48% (2017) to ≥ EU Average in 2025. In 2017 EU Average for the ‘% of the population with basic or above basic digital skills’ was 57% (Targets table p51).

Pillar 4 in Futures Jobs Ireland will focus on increasing participation in the labour force, and it useful that it notes “Improving participation rates means a more equitable, balanced and sustainable development of our workforce. Policies must differentiate between the different needs of people as well as the different barriers to participation.” (p59) The document goes on to focus in on women, older people and people with disabilities, which are all to be welcome. However, it would also be important to ensure policy developments are inclusive of minority ethnic groups, in particular Travellers and Roma, whose unemployment and employment rates are in stark and negative contrast to the overall national rates.

One worrying development is the use of the term ‘youth unemployment ratio’, rather than youth unemployment rate. The unemployment rate is arrived at by dividing the unemployed by the Labour Force and so does not included people who are in education and training. The ‘youth unemployment ratio’ divides the youth unemployment by the total youth population and is hence a smaller figure. What this development fails to acknowledge is that for people in this age category who are in the labour force, a higher % of them are unemployed. Many of these young people are likely to be living in disadvantaged and marginalised communities, living in jobless households, and their exclusion must be acknowledged and properly addressed.

On page fifty-seven of Future Jobs Ireland under Ambition 3.5 Deliverables it aims to “Enhance the career advice service provided through the Public Employment Service to include offering support to those currently in employment who may need to identify new opportunities as a result of technological and other changes.” (p57) To deliver on this ambition demands that DEASP fully implement their first strategic objective “Put the Client at the Centre of Policy and Service Delivery” and that they work in partnership with other service providers, including community based organisations, to meet the needs of people more distant from and vulnerable in the labour market.

If you wish to read the full document please follow this link https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Future-Jobs-Ireland-2019.pdf