No Longer Fit for Purpose? Consolidation and Catching-up in Irish Labour Market Policy

Friday, July 14, 2017
WMB - Gannochy Seminar Room 3 (University of Glasgow)
Fiona Dukelow , Applied Social Studies, University College Cork
Recent change to Irish labour market policy has been guided by the idea, promoted by both domestic and international policy actors, that Ireland’s policy regime prior to the 2008 crisis was no longer ‘fit for purpose’ being overly focused on a passive benefit system and a similarly passive approach to activation.  Judged against Ireland’s typically conservative and slow pace of reform, a period of deep austerity between late 2008 and 2014 instigated rapid and potentially transformative changes.   By 2016 the government framed a new policy phase, ‘activation in a time of recovery and growth’. However, as this paper argues, several issues remain problematic, both in terms of the changes instigated and the legacies of the crisis.  

The paper maps key changes related to consolidation and catch-upFirstly, retrenchment is clearly evident across the social protection system in payments for those of working age, further eroding the already weak social insurance underpinnings of the system. Secondly, in terms of activation, existing programmes which focused heavily on direct job creation have been somewhat curtailednew more market oriented programmes have been introduced and compulsion has been stregthened. Thirdly, major institutional re-design is leading to greater integration of the benefit system with employment services and greater use of marketization as a policy instrument.  By assessing these changes against Ireland’s weak employment protection regime and the recent dynamics of the labour market the paper concludes by addressing the question of how they are contributing to a more precarious labour market regime post-crisis.  

  • No longer fit for purpose.pdf (911.0 kB)