Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 21 March 2024

Committee on Public Petitions

Decisions on Public Petitions Received

Photo of Pat BuckleyPat Buckley (Cork East, Sinn Fein)
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We are caught between a rock and a hard place. As for retention and contractual law, if people are being subvented, it is not hard to write up a contract that states that once a person is qualified, he or she will work there for the next five years. We have the best trained people in the planet but the working conditions, the cost of living and the whole lot is what pushes them out. People see the quality of life, the retainers and bonuses they will be paid if they go to Dubai, as well as accommodation being paid for. Going back 25 or 30 years, I recall that my first cousin was a nurse in Southampton, where all the trainee nurses had on-site accommodation supplied to them, which made it a lot easier for them.

Another issue, which we discussed in private session as well, is that the training we are talking about is very similar to apprenticeships. Apprenticeship rates are very low and there is a lot of travelling involved. Could those people not be subvented with the jobseeker's allowance because for half of their training, it would be practically cost neutral? I do not suggest this for the full training but for half of it. We would not have people sitting on their backsides, doing nothing and still drawing money whereas with this, it would encourage the individual to progress through his or her apprenticeship, training or whatever it is, while having a bit of self-worth and affordability. It is correct that most employees supply all the PPE gear but if there was a contractual agreement for whatever X amount of years, at least there would be a payback there. It is about helping everybody. I spoke to five student nurses a while ago who were nearly qualified and not one of them is going to stay in the country. They are gone.