Collaboration with industry critical if scale of unemployment is to be mitigated, says Chambers Ireland

Following today’s (8 May 2020) publication of CSO data on Live Register and Unemployment Figures, Chambers Ireland calls for significant state interventions to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of people now in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and other supports do not fall into long-term unemployment.

Speaking today, Chambers Ireland President Siobhan Kinsella called for short, sharp, agile interventions to ensure that those who are now in receipt of state supports can re-train, be redeployed and return to work.

“We know that the sectors that are hardest hit, like hospitality and tourism, won’t recover overnight. They will need significant support, particularly in terms of cashflow, to restart once it has been deemed safe and appropriate for them to do so. In the meantime, Government needs to take immediate steps to prevent those who have lost jobs because of COVID-19 from becoming long-term unemployed.

The present challenges for the labour market are entirely different to what we experienced in the last recession, and this time, have little to do with skills obsolescence. While some sectors face enormous challenges because of the nature of the virus, others, such as healthcare and food distribution, continue to face labour shortages.

State agencies like Solas and Skillnet have been extremely capable in addressing labour market issues that have emerged in recent years. There is now an opportunity, through strategic engagement with industry and business representative bodies, to tackle this issue and prevent patterns of long-term unemployment from emerging.

Collaboration with industry, particularly SMEs, to create short, agile interventions to re-train and re-deploy those who are currently out of work will be essential if we are to maintain our competitiveness as an economy. Our message to Government is to work with business in finding solutions so we can minimise the scale of unemployment in the months to come.”

Also speaking today, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot noted the regional and sectoral impact of COVID-19.

“In no way can we assume that a “v shaped” recovery will follow the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. While the official CSO Live Register and unemployment figures show a rate of 5.4%, the significant numbers of people in receipt of the COVID-19 supports paint a truer picture of what has happened to the labour market since March.

Chambers Ireland research published this morning highlights the significant impact on sectors such as tourism and hospitality, and how that damage is being felt more strongly in economies along the Atlantic seaboard.

Sector specific interventions must be paired with a regional approach. Regional Skills Fora, who work closely with our member Chambers, must be appropriately resourced to address these challenges as they emerge.”