The Labour Market Council was established in September 2013 to support and advise the Government on the implementation of the Pathways to Work Strategy and wider policy issues relating to the agenda of supporting long-term unemployed in their return to work. The Council met on 28 occasions.
Membership of the Council comprised of industry, trade union and policy experts appointed on the basis of their knowledge of labour market and employment policy. The Council in particular focused on providing advice regarding the evaluation of the impact, effectiveness and efficiency of measures implemented as part of the Pathways to Work strategy, and other relevant labour market policies aimed at supporting unemployed individuals to access employment. It also provided policy advice on all matters concerning the delivery, engagement and awareness of employer supports in relation to the implementation of Pathways to Work, my Department’s Employer Engagement Strategy and other relevant labour market policies aimed at supporting unemployed individuals and other priority groups to access employment, while meeting the requirements of employers and the business community.
Given the fact that unemployment is now at 5.3% the challenge faced by the Department is changing from primarily responding to unemployment to increasing participation. In this regard the Department continues to engage with relevant stakeholders to inform its approach to developing its public employment services, with an emphasis on maintaining a quality service not just to unemployed jobseekers but increasingly to other client groups of the Department, including people with disabilities. For example, the Department as part of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities, established a Make Work Pay Inter-Departmental Group chaired by Professor Frances Ruane comprising representatives from key Departments, agencies and three independent experts. This group reported in 2017 and its recommendations are now being followed up including via a consultative forum of key stakeholders.
Separately, the Minister for Education and Skills established the National Skills Council in April 2017. This council is charged with ensuring that Ireland can anticipate and respond to current, future and rapidly changing skills needs across all sectors in the labour market while developing and retaining workplace talent. Membership of the National Skills Council is, as was the case with the Labour Market Council, representative of the key stakeholders with interest in labour market developments. The Department is represented on this council.
Against this background the Department is currently considering what consultative structures would be useful that will add value to its work in developing public employment services.