Ireland: Inclusive labour markets ensuring no one is left behind

Posted on Friday, 10 December 2021
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Caritas Europa has just published the latest edition of the Caritas CARES report for Ireland.  The focus of this edition is on inclusive labour markets and social economy as part of national social models. The report focuses particularly on the challenges that should be urgently tackled to make labour markets more inclusive and to promote social economy, making use of selected Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets on poverty and employment as reference frameworks and based on Caritas Europa’s vision for sustainable social models, as well as existing EU and Council of Europe processes, programmes and legal instruments. 

Over the last few years, Irish economy has been characterised by a consistent growth with an increase in employment rates and a reduction of the unemployment rates.  However, several challenges remain in terms of increased inequalities. Access to the labour market is still difficult for marginalised groups, such as migrants, refugees and Roma. In some cases, discrimination makes it difficult for people to enter the labour market, especially as regards unemployed, non-white ethnic backgrounds, persons who identify as LGBTI+, non-Irish and persons with a disability. Young people are another group facing difficulties in accessing the labour market.

In terms of employment and inclusive labour markets, recovery at a national level and a European level is interconnected, and the success of the correct policies at both levels will drive a fair recovery.   The report outlines a series of recommendations at national and European level to support inclusive labour markets.

National level

Recommendation 1: Implement the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Establish processes involving social partners and civil society partners to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights in legally binding ways, aiming for equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions, and social protection and inclusion.

Recommendation 2: Adopt effective Labour Market Measures, particularly services for NEETS, the long term unemployed and low skilled workers.

As the recovery is likely to be uneven, policies that protect the most vulnerable must be prioritised. Major investment is required in training and services for NEETS, skills development for young jobseekers, training for long term unemployed with a focus on jobs in the green, circular and digital economy.  Activation measures need to focus on supporting unemployed people, aiming to maintain and develop appropriate skills and to not be accompanied by the threatened loss of welfare benefits or assistance. Employment measures must not be implemented in a way that removes income security and increases in-work poverty.

European level

Recommendation 3: Ensure Coherence of European Policy and the European Semester.

Integrate the social objectives such as those of the new strategy to replace the Europe 2020 Strategy and the European Pillar of Social Rights in the economic processes of the European Semester. For example, the priorities of Annual Growth Surveys should focus on long-term social objectives, and on building adequate, effective social systems that include both investment and protection dimensions and are better aligned to the EU Social Investment Package.

Recommendation 4: Support further social initiatives.

Enhance leadership and support from the EU for social initiatives which would benefit both people in need of support (through health and social care programmes) and societies generally. This would be consistent with the Social Investment Package and could provide valuable employment opportunities for people who are long-term unemployed.  The adoption of a Job Guarantee could be one recommendation for building a more inclusive labour market and assist in mitigating the impact of an uneven recovery across Europe, the impact of digitalisation and automation on employment, and the progress towards a just transition by supporting those communities and areas that will be most affected by job losses.

Download the report below.