My Department is fully aware of the importance of maintaining and increasing employment rates in the labour market. Particularly, as we draw closer to full employment, it is essential we continue to provide enterprise in Ireland with a high-quality, adaptable and flexible talent pool. My Department closely monitors the trends in labour market employment rates. As of Q1 2019, the employment rate of women aged 15-64 in Ireland is 64.3%. This is higher than the EU average, which is 63.5%.
Future Jobs Ireland is committed to a more equitable, balanced and sustainable development of our workforce. As such it has identified increasing participation in the labour force as one of its key pillars. Future Jobs Ireland sets the target of a substantial 3 percentage point increase in overall participation rates for people aged 25 to 69 years by 2025 with higher increases for females and older people. In order to achieve this target, the framework details relevant ambitions underpinned by deliverables. The ambitions and deliverables relevant to increasing female participation include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Encouraging participation in the labour force through high-quality Early Learning and Care. This ambition is underpinned by deliverables to complement the implementation of the Affordable Childcare Scheme including the introduction of additional ways to reduce costs, enhance supply and improve quality.
- Fostering participation in the labour force through flexible working solutions. This ambition assists in the development of an inclusive society. It is underpinned by a number of deliverables including the development of guidance for employers on family-friendly working options and the extension of unpaid Parental Leave to allow for greater flexibility of parents.
Improving incentives to participate in the labour force. This ambition includes a deliverable to consider income tax arrangements for second earners that optimise financial incentives to work, taking account of the impact that the income tax system may have on female participation in the workforce.
- Encouraging adult dependents and beneficiaries of other full-time welfare payments to engage in activation, enter and/or stay in the workforce. This ambition is underpinned by deliverables such as the development of a return to work service as part of the Public Employment Service offering; assisting women returned to work in the technology sector through Skillnets Ireland Women ReBOOT programme; and a review of recent analyses of inactivity to identify policy issues to support the development of policy responses.
Undertaking promotional campaigns to encourage greater levels of participation in the labour force. This ambition is underpinned by deliverables including a communications campaign to promote awareness of the Public Employment Service as a real recruitment option, especially for those groups with lower participation rates; and the development of promotions for female participation as part of Jobs Week 2019 and Jobs Fairs.
 Employment rates by sex, age and citizenship (%), European Labour Force Survey, Eurostat, Q1 2019