While our focus is increasingly diverted to political and security events in the US, the UK and across the European continent, it is important to retain focus on the many developments underway in the Irish labour market, and their potential to impact on business.
We have seen unprecedented numbers of Private Members Bills during the term of this Dáil, many of them supported by government, which if passed could present major difficulties for business in the years ahead.
The government is currently drafting a Bill proposing to introduce legislation on zero and low hours work contracts. Ibec believes this will be a crude piece of legislation, imposing significant cost and regulatory burdens on all employers to address a problem that is very small in the overall scale of the labour market.
Ibec continues to press for a full and robust regulatory impact assessment because we believe this response is disproportionate, will undermine competitiveness, will have significant adverse consequences for employees, and will deter investment and employment growth.
What impact Brexit will have on the free movement of labour between us and our closest neighbour remains uncertain, and we will campaign strongly to minimise any effects. Irish firms have invested heavily in the UK, generating an annual turnover there of around €37.6 billion. Irish companies in Britain employ 86,000 people, while UK companies in Ireland employ 73,000. Any change to the ability of companies, particularly multinationals, to move employees freely between both jurisdictions may have a significant impact on Irish business.
Finally, some good news. Last month’s inaugural meeting of the National Skills Council (NSC), marks the final stage in the establishment of a new structure to encourage deeper business engagement with the education and training system.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education and Skills has also established a network of nine Regional Skills Fora which are designed to provide a cohesive structure for employers and the education system to work together in building the skills needs of their regions. These developments are welcome first-steps as we seek to link skills analysis to effective policy interventions.
Registered directors: Anne Heraty (President), Edel Creely, Leo Crawford, Gerry Collins, Larry Murrin, John Kennedy, Danny McCoy, Liam O'Donoghue, Paraic Curtis, Kevin Toland, Brian MacCraith, Siobhan Talbot, Patrick Manley, Alastair Blair, Richie Boucher, Frank Gleeson, Cathriona Hallahan, Tony Smurfit.