Launch of the new TASC and Carnegie UK Trust essay collection: "Ensuring Good Future Jobs"

TASC Good Future Jobs event 28 Nov 2019
TASC Good Future Jobs event 28 Nov 2019

Speaking at the launch of the "Ensuring Good Future Jobs" essay collecting at the National University of Ireland office, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins said "The essays in this collection from TASC and the Carnegie UK Trust are the kind of joined up thinking we urgently need around the future of work. They offer a detailed examination of work and employment policy that recognises and considers the reality of people's lived experience while also looking at the wider context of society with huge care needs, a new digital landscape, a changing climate and important choices to make."

Speaking at the launch of the “Ensuring Good Future Jobs” essay collection at the National University of Ireland Office, Senator Alice Mary Higgins said

 “We lost valuable time during the recession. At exactly the time when joined up and long term thinking was most needed, the focus narrowed to short term quarterly targets and in many sectors, opportunistic employers were allowed to fragment and erode terms and conditions for workers through the spread of  precarious contracts and bogus self-employment." 

Senator Higgins emphasised the essential role of legislators in ending these bad practices and noted that while we had seen some progressive legislation put forward recently it was unfortunate that other constructive proposals such as Senator Ged Nash's bill on Joint Labour Commissions, had recently been blocked by government.

"We need to deliver essential workers’ rights; a living wage and predictable hours as a positive starting point for the necessary new conversations. This is a time for joining the dots, the global decade of action from 2020 to 2030 will need to deliver in terms of climate action, sustainable development goals and equality. That challenges us to combine the best new thinking from feminist economics, green economics and indeed the union movement to reimagine work. Ideas like the four day week which is being championed by a wide array of stakeholders. This is not simply about inclusion in the workforce, its about transformation of the workplace."

 One example of this is in terms of care. "Care has for too long been undervalued, underpaid or invisible. We need to place it centre stage and ensure that care work becomes a high quality and secure career option. The fact is that if we can get things right in a sector like care, with its high-employment density, that's going to have a huge positive effect in many people's lives. We also need to recognise that care for the planet is an important future area of employment - not all green jobs will be in technology, many will also be in the support or restoration of our damaged ecology."

 The digital divide is also a focus in the essay collection and Senator Higgins noted that "Ireland has a digital literacy rate of 48%, far below the EU average of 57%. That means that despite the many major online platforms headquartered here, over half of the Irish population cannot perform basic tasks online. We need to invest in and support digital empowerment in a meaningful way"

 The "role of the state in modelling and innovating around decent employment practice and thought through procurement" was also emphasised and Senator Higgins will be bringing forward legislation on quality procurement in the new year. She reminded attendees that we are marking the centenary of the First Dáil who set out a twin ambition of "the development of industries in the most beneficial and progressive way" and the "lasting improvement in the conditions under which the working classes live and labour".  She noted that "we should be affirming and surpassing that ambition in our plans for sustainable development and good future jobs"


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