Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Challenges to Ireland's Competitiveness: Discussion

Photo of Marie SherlockMarie Sherlock (Labour)
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I thank the representatives of the council for attending our hearing today. I have read their detailed and long report Ireland’s Competitiveness Challenge 2021. I very much welcome some of the analysis in that report, particularly the comments on the pandemic unemployment payment and the need to have an adequate transition process in place. I welcome also the references to the need to introduce the paid sick leave Bill and to the right to request flexible working conditions. It is important to acknowledge and welcome those aspects of the report.

My question relates to labour supply. This matter has already been touched on in the context of housing. It was stated that the need for affordable housing is now a competitiveness issue as regards attracting workers to the country and retaining workers in certain sectors and areas. I want to understand a little more the work of the council on labour supply in construction. As we are aware, a significant ramp-up is planned for new builds and retrofitting over the coming years. When I examined the data, I saw that the construction labour figure in the first half of this year was as low as that for 2017.

Of course, that will improve in the second half of 2021. The labour supply into construction and the competition for skilled construction labour, in particular considering the strength of the Polish and eastern European economies and the need within the UK at present, poses a real challenge. I want to understand more about the work of the council. I note a report was produced last year, however, I want to know if work has been done this year in that regard. In addition, the report stated the Government's action plan to secure the pipeline of apprenticeships is taking effect. I would like to hear more detail on that.