Unemployment Taskforce

It is worth discussing whether the report that the unemployment taskforce does not seem to have gotten off the ground is worrying. On the one hand, it potentially points to a failure to take seriously an issue that may have enormous consequences for the future economic and social well-being of everyone living in the country, particularly younger people. On the other hand, it may be saving the waste of another talking shop that will have no teeth and ultimately will not be able to achieve anything. Can a committee meeting on a regular basis to draft recommendations to government bodies on unemployment achieve something? If so, what should this committee be doing and what should it be empowered to do? If not, then should it simply be wound down now rather than cluttering the policy environment?

14 thoughts on “Unemployment Taskforce”

  1. The right approach for this task force, is not to do any work at all. All it should do is sit on other taskforces, and other boards, in all sectors of the economy and study what other people are doing.

    Then they should re-group, and try to assemble together a broad picture, of what in fact is happening in Ireland with regards to the un-employment situation. What I mean is, take architecture for instance. This is a very unique area in itself, and its solutions to unemployment of architects, will have to be tailored very carefully in a certain way. Auctioneering might have a different set of problems and proposed solutions. Engineering something else.

    But what would be interesting is if this ‘unemployment taskforce’ could study what is happening in all of the various sectors and see where the success stories are. That information could be transmitted to other sectors of the economy through means of a seminar or something, that would enable a diverse range of different bodies to compare experiences.

    The reason I say this, is because in the environmental movement currently underway in Ireland, I attend a couple of different groups. Each have their own slant completely. They all appear to be trying to work in the same direction and trying to work out the same problems. But I am absolutely convinced, there is no body in Ireland, whose job it is to visit many different organisations and contrast the different efforts.

    An overview would be very useful to have in the environmental movement. An overview likewise, would be very useful to have in the unemployment issue. In fact, if we had both of those overviews worked out, about the environmental issue and the unemployment issue, we could then overlay them, to see where they might match up, or where they don’t match up.

    In other words, it might help to pinpoint areas where the real economy is managing fine, using its own resources and funding. We might be able to pin point also, where the real economy isn’t coping very well and where government stimulus could pick up some slack. I don’t know if any of this makes any sense. But definitely, in the environmental movement, the overview is not there. I imagine, with all of the different bodies working separately on the unemployment problem, an overview is sadly missing too I expect.

  2. Perhaps it is preferred that it is best to report nothing than more awkward truths. How can one tell a person that you occupational choice is in a saturated market, and you may have to enter/ retrain for other employment oppurtunities? From a government already unpopular.

    Like the excess of housing stock, we have an excess of labour specialisations, which also may takes years to sort out. If we had used recycleable mortars in the houses there is a chance that the materials could be recycled.

    I wonder how much of the construction related unemployment can be recycled into other activities.

    None of this is intended to be offensive to anyone in the situation
    Al

  3. I hear the government have at least been active in trying to prevent further retail sector unemployment in the border counties (due to cross-border shopping). They have been sendiong out leaflets to all households, urging them to shop locally – so a friend who lives up their tells me this evening.

    Sadly though, it seems their leaflets were printed in Limivady, in the North.

    You couldn’t make it up 🙁

  4. Al,

    this is my point entirely. The problems of unemployment in the various sectors are so specific and specialised. The example of the building trades above is a very good example, of a specific situation, where the problem isn’t so much lack of skills – the individual might be extremely skilled – but a need to find some other niche to slip into, which would make life in general easier to handle at the moment.

    To my mind, everyone in the individual sectors of the economy is so busy and so under pressure, fighting their own localised fires, that no one has the resources to move around and see what is happening across the board.

    I feel sure, this comes from a mentality in Ireland, where if you work for a department or organisation, who spend 100% of your time rooted to your own spot. Tom Peters used to speak about the need for an ‘adhocracy’ to counter the effect of a bureaucracy.

    That is, people who can cut across boundaries. IBM in their heyday used to have a couple of characters like that, who were impossible to restrict in one department. But they would run through the organisation setting off little fires wherever they went, because they could see the whole architecture. Even if they couldn’t remain focussed on any part for very long.

  5. Joseph: if it is cheaper to print the leaflets in Limavady then thats what we should do (& leaving aside any hands-across-the-border sentiment). It is essential to avoid the temptation to engage in protectionism (which is what not doing so would be) because of the unemployment crisis.

  6. As far as I know, the Kerryman newspaper is printed in Belfast and shipped down by road. Kerry people cannot get their heads around that, in a town such as Tralee which has been hit badly by the downturn.

  7. This task force has been in existence for 10 months.

    Another one is “reviewing” the proposals in the April 2008 OECD report on the public service and it has produced nothing.

    This is the response at the time of crisis.

  8. @Michael Hennigan
    We are stuck with the Chamberlain government when what we need is the Churchill one. Who will tell our Herbert Hoovers that it is time for 100 days of action? When will they listen to Peter Mathews and realise that NAMA will lose €20 Billion and still not fix the banks?

  9. @kevin denny

    It is right that the government should look for the best value, but there’s wiggle room in every rule, and in this instance the government should be paying attention to the small details and doing everything in its power to avoid the charge of hypocrisy.

    It may be that they are contract-bound to produce certain types of document with that particularly company, but I’m sure some sort of arrangement could have easily been made. It’s just another example of fecklessness at the highest level.

  10. The task force on unemployment seem to have been unemployed for the last 10 months. They are leading the unemployed by example.

    It was only set up, in the first place, because there was a need “to be seen to be doing something”. They have done something and that something is “nothing”.

    Surprise, surprise 50,000 people waiting to have their claims acknowledged/processed by the department of Social Welfare and we are told unemployment dropped.

  11. It is what it is.

    Government policy is to export problems and pay as much as possible to cronies.

    It works. It will continue to work. U/E benefits will be savagely cut over the next few years. Emigration will accelerate. Problem solved. There is no political will to change the structure of migration.

    Ireland is one of the least densely populated countries in Europe by design. We have had many decades to address the causes. Why waste time pretending that anyone but the VICTIMS care?

  12. @Pat Donnelly

    Interesting, the “by design” comment. Is inacion on unemployment the 21st Century version of clearing and enclosing the land? They are certainly pulling out all stops for the landed interests.

    We all gotta live. If the budget they plan goes through, then yes, I will take my (presently unemployed) server engineering skills offshore. I don’t want to go but it’s already difficult enough to support an increasingly futile job search. An open economy means the free flow of labour as well as capital. But those flows are a two-edged sword.

  13. @Marise

    I think the government would like you to go…… ‘by design’.

    I mentioned somewhere in an earlier post (on a more recent thread above) that there is a PR campaign going on at the moment to point out to people claiming benefits and/or not contributing to the tax take (it’s a little more subtle than that but it’s there) that going away is a really good idea.

    If you do leave, please try to continue to contribute here as I find your posts refreshing. I too have been through the ‘increasingly futile job search’ and have now decided to go ‘back to school’ and live in poverty for a while (sadly, I don’t get any benefits or grants – I’m told they are like living in clover they are so good in Ireland – so good they are going to be forced to cut them next month………. but that’s just me being sarcastic again. I must stop it).

    On that subject, didn’t they already cut welfare benefits this year by taking the axe to the Christmas payment? I hope people remember to add that in when they are saying what % claimants’ income has gone down by.

  14. To be honest I firmly believe the focus is in the wrong area.

    A lot of people are talking about Jobs. Politicians rant and rail about “Jobs” especially in the opposition benches. This is fundamentally wrong.

    The focus which this country so desperately needs is for the question to be asked “Where is the WORK?”

    There is no point in wasting time and money giving jobs to people if the end product cannot be sold or used. That happened in the Soviet Union era and in short it did not work well. In addition we are also in competition with Asia. We cannot compete against Asia on cost grounds, also their economies do not have the same level of social welfare support as Western Europe. All heavy industry has gone East, Shipbuilding being just one example. Medium industry is gone east and if we are not careful we will lose light engineering as well.

    Europe was able to stay ahead of Asia as we had the experience, knowledge and brains. However this lead is steadily being eroded. Asian companies are buying up shares in several specialized European companies, they are then copying every data file and spreadsheet and sending the data back East. Very soon Asia will have all the work and all the knowledge.

    Asia is a serious force to be reckoned with. They have the determination, drive and the means to obtain everything we know. Couple this with very cheap costs of manufacturing then the western world is becoming almost redundant.

    So where does this leave us? Ireland requires a long term strategic plan. We require to ask ourselves where are we now, and where do we want the country to be in 10 years time. This is a process which all large corporations go through every couple of decades. IBM was one such example, the US car industry is another (which has to change or be routed by the Japanese), and I would suggest Ireland is now facing the same question.

    A long term strategic plan is required. We have made very good decisions before, one being the setting up of the RTC’s (regional technical colleges) back in the 1970’s. We need to understand that for the country to be successful it will take several strategies which are complimentary to each other working in unison which will get this country back on its feet again.

    Anyway I have done enough writing about the Idea, now I will make some suggestions as to how we achieve this.

    The world is now changing, we need to recognize this and ask ourselves where is the new direction going. A bit like the computer industry back in the 70’s, it was the decline of the mainframe / mini computer and rise of miniaturization firstly in the PC and the miniaturization has continued, for example it is now possible to buy a wrist watch which incorporates a phone.

    One fact will be certain, the world will always have problems. If Ireland could position itself as a solution center, then we will always be employed. Change is definitely on the way, price of oil will rise. So we should be firstly insulating ourselves from this oncoming danger. For example why do we import potatoes from Israel or Cypress? Was their not a time when North Dublin used to feed its residents? We require to return to some sort of self sufficiency. Provided it does not reintroduce inefficiency costs of over protective practices.

    I believe the combination of science and medicine will be the next wave of innovation. Already advances are being made in artificial eyesight, where blind people can see again as silicon light detectors are implanted on their retina. Advances are being carried out in interfacing human nerve tissue with transistors. We are witnessing the dawn of Cyborg technology. We are not there yet, but we are getting closer. This technology will come, and is Ireland positioned to deliver it to the world? How do we get into this position?

    Another example is where scientists in TCD developed a method to dispose of polystyrene (recently I believe) in a biodegradable manner. Think of the huge benefits this will have to this problem which afflicts the world. We need to harness more solutions to the worlds problems and create wealth for the country and ourselves.

    There are literally thousand of different diseases, however the major pharmaceuticals are only working on the diseases where major money is to be made, i.e. Aids, Cancer etc. That means there are thousands of diseases which will never be overcome in our lifetime. Could we identify these niche areas and make money by a homegrown industry?

    There is a huge movement towards sustainable living, green power generation etc. Ireland has enough wave power to supply the country nearly 9 times over. We have some small companies who are trying to develop this technology. We should be supporting them (and we are supporting them to a certain extent), this could be our next big export, provided we can get the costs down and compete with Asia.

    Why do we have thousands of houses with little or no green features ie geothermal heat pumps, solar energy collection. We have a lot of unemployed construction workers who could start working to reduce the living costs of the states citizens. I would ask could we develop a technique where we could bring about this change. Why are we paying these workers social welfare to do nothing, when we could employ them to retrofit houses with renewable heating etc. In addition could we go further by saying to the civil servants, yes your salary is being cut, but you have the option of having a free renewable energy heating system installed on your home. So there would be a carrot and stick approach.

    We require more Luas lines to be installed, not just in Dublin but Cork as well etc. Could we create a mechanism where this work can be used cheaply and efficiently to reduce unemployment, provide a positive service to the people but at little cost or risk of inefficient practices being implemented.

    But we also require to identify the problems which hinder our progress. I firmly believe discipline in schools requires immediate attention. A disruptive student can halt the leaning progress for an entire class and schools are powerless to take action. We are wasting time trying to teach students who cannot be taught with the existing educational system we have. A different approach is required to deal with these students, so that the class can progress in learning and the disruptive student is also educated but in a different manner.

    Ireland is a country which has lots of work to be done, we have lots of people who want to work, we require to construct a method to link the two together in a efficient and cost beneficial manner. Only then will the Jobs be created.

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