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Policy issues concerning Education

At our 32nd annual Social Policy Conference last month, Mick Clifford (Irish Examiner, Irish Journalist of the Year 2016) interviewed Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize Winner in 1993, and one of Ireland's greatest living authors.

Technological change is coming whether we like it or not.  The question is are we doing enough to prepare for it?  More specifically are we doing enough to support those workers who will be most impacted by the changes that are on the horizon?

International Literacy Day gives us the opportunity to remember the importance of literacy, to celebrate the progress we have made, and a chance to reinvigorate efforts to address the literacy challenges that we still face.

Ireland has signed up to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and is committed to legally binding climate commitments in 2020 and 2030.  We have a national commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 yet we spend up to €4 billion every year on potentially environmentally damaging subsidies.

Two studies published recently by the Central Statistics Office show that a greater percentage of graduates from Higher and Further education were in substantial employment one year after graduation than in 2010, and that the higher the educational attainment, the higher the income.  Education has the capacity to be transformative, particularly for those in lower socioeconomic groups.  Government must prioritise equality of both access and opportunity to education for all.

Investment in education at all levels and throughout the life cycle can deliver a more equal society and prepare citizens to participate in a democracy. Social Justice Ireland has proposed a €429m education package for Budget 2020 that includes investment in areas such as adult literacy, DEIS, skills development, and community education.

Investing in lifelong learning and adult education is vital to prevent future skills mismatches and to ensure no-one is excluded from an ever changing labour market. 

The headline social inclusion targets addressed in the Irish National Reform Programme are focussed on employment, education and ‘poverty and social exclusion’.  How is Ireland performing on the social inclusion aspects of our National Reform Programme and our Europe 2020 targets?

Among the key findings from the National Social Monitor - European Edition are that quality of housing, the burden of housing costs, financial distress, difficulty in making ends meet and the environment are key issues in Ireland and across the European Union.  As we face into European Elections in May these issues are certain to feature strongly.

With reports this week of another multi-national aiming to replace call centres with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Ireland needs to invest in human capital to prepare for the impact of digitalisation.

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