Ensuring Good Future Jobs: new Carnegie UK Trust-TASC publication promotes a ‘good work’ focus for Ireland

December 2, 2019

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Representatives from women’s groups, young people, rural communities and trade unions have shared their insights on how to encourage better work in Ireland in a new collection developed by the Carnegie UK Trust and TASC (Think-tank for Action on Social Change). The collected essays, with contributions from 15 key social partners, including business representatives, academics, the trade union movement and wider civil society, represents a coordinated response to the Irish Government’s first Future Jobs Strategy. The essays were launched in Dublin on 28 November.

The authors welcome the Irish Government’s Future Jobs Strategy, but argue that the strategy needs to go further, to promote ‘good’ jobs  that offer a decent income, security, engagement, support and opportunity for all workers at all levels and in all sectors of the economy, not just the most highly skilled.

Set against the challenges of automation and the transition to a lower carbon economy, the collection examines what is needed to ensure quality, meaningful and appropriately remunerated jobs for a range of workers, but particularly those most at risk of exploitation and discrimination. These include young people, women with children, men and women without third level degrees, people with disabilities and migrants or Travellers, for example.

The essays emphasise that the perspective and needs of employees, not just employers, should drive future work policy to raise productivity, protect employment rights, and improve quality of work. At the moment, many of the writers contend, there is too much emphasis on the responsibilities of workers to develop high skills to meet employer skills gaps, rather than considering the responsibilities of policy makers and employers to ensure that decent work is available for all citizens.

“By concentrating on having a job, rather than what the job provides, especially concerning financial security and personal wellbeing, the Future Jobs report risks mistaking all employment for employment which actually delivers improvements in wellbeing,” said Shana Cohen, Director of TASC. 

“For instance, the Government’s report claims that a labour market which offers flexible working solutions can result in a win, win, win for employers, workers and society,” she continued.  “Some workers may well prefer a flexible working arrangement for a variety of reasons. However, many more are being forced into self-employment or find that they have no choice but to work in the precarious gig economy without any security of pay or conditions. Our research at TASC on precarious work shows that the flexibility is heavily weighted in favour of the employer. It’s not a progressive way to plan for the future of jobs.”

The collection of essays includes a look at whether Ireland is a “Republic of opportunity or a state of insecurity for young workers”, many of whom are feeling the greatest impact of precarious work combined with Ireland’s housing crisis and high cost of living (James Doorley, NYCI). It also looks at the future of work in rural Ireland (Sean McCabe, TASC) and considers what has to happen to address the continuation of gendered inequality in the workplace for women (Orla O’Connor, NWCI).

Sarah Davidson, CEO of the Carnegie UK Trust, said:

“To ensure the economy is working for citizens, employment strategies need to focus not only on the numbers in employment but also on quality of work. That’s why the Irish Government’s emphasis on increasing quality jobs in the Future Jobs Strategy is very welcome. However, we also need to engage with the challenges facing workers today in order to create policies that support better future jobs. That’s what this essay collection sets out to do. We are very pleased that so many individuals and organisations with a stake in the future of work have contributed their views on what good future jobs look like for workers in Ireland, and how we can make this happen.”

Read the collected essays, Ensuring Good Future Jobs here

The full list of essay contributors is as follows:

  • James Doorley, NYCI, Ireland: Republic of opportunity or state of insecurity for young workers?
  • Patricia King, ICTU, A roadmap to decent work and inclusive growth
  • Orla O’Connor, NWCI, Women and work
  • Michelle O’Sullivan, University of Limerick, Curbing bogus self-employment
  • Phil NÍ Sheaghdha, INMO, Getting health care right for good future jobs and care.
  • Gail Irvine, Carnegie UK Trust, Measuring good work and why it matters
  • Sean McCabe, TASC, Future of work in rural communities in Ireland
  • Robert Sweeney, TASC, Ireland, low pay and the living wage
  • Tomás Sercovich, Business in the Community Ireland, Improving the quality of management to deliver better jobs.
  • Cian McMahon, St Mary’s University, Cooperatives and the future of work in Ireland
  • Ted Fleming, Columbia University, Ár dTir Féin: The skills we need for the future
  • Charlotte May-Simera, NUI Galway, Good Future Jobs for all? Persons with disabilities remain on the margins
  • Edel McGinley, MRCI, Situating migrant workers in the future of work agenda
  • Joan Donegan, Irish Federation of University Teachers, Organising workers in the modern (and future) world of work
  • Richard Wynne, Work Research Centre, Improving mental health at work


Photo credits to SKP & Associates, Ltd trading as Lensmen & Associate