When the debate was adjourned last week I had travelled some distance in trying to put forward suggestions and ideas which arise in looking at the Bill before the House. I do not intend to go over that ground again but I should like to mention very briefly the principal areas leading up to the continuation of my basic argument.
I do not believe anybody disagrees with the need for the Bill. It was in relation to the increased exigencies of the future which will face the IDA that we were concerned, the social implications of the unemployment problem and the degree to which the IDA, even with the new powers, will be in a position to cope with those. I pointed out, in passing, the implications which I do not think should go unmentioned, of our traditional policy in relation to employment creation which, in a nutshell, has been to encourage and to invite industrial investment from the private sector and hope that the operation of free market forces will result in the creation of the necessary number of jobs.
There has always been a low profile in relation to State involvement, in relation to the degree to which the Government will take an initiating role in regard to creating their own type of employment. We are, perhaps, seeing the beginning of a change in that because the Government have clearly committed themselves to getting directly involved in creating jobs. I have no doubt that they will tackle that in due course.
I also mentioned the traditional role of the IDA. Some speakers were rather critical in that area. I tried to point out that although the effectiveness of the IDA had resulted in merely retaining an existing reservoir of numbers of jobs there had not been in real terms a quantitative increase in the number of jobs created during the seventies. Nevertheless, without the efforts and the dedication of the IDA the position would have been catastrophic. In this context and in the context of a discussion on jobs generally regard should be had not merely for numbers of jobs, with which politicians understandably tend to get bogged down, but also with the type of jobs. It is a matter of increasing concern to some of us, particularly those representing fairly dense urban areas, that although the existing reservoir of jobs has been maintained by the IDA the nature of the jobs they are creating to replace the jobs that have gone out of existence is significantly different from the needs of the unemployed. There is an increasing need for useful, socially and personally fulfilling employment for people who are semi-skilled or unskilled.
Many of the new jobs being created are of a clerical, an administrative and a management nature and are what might loosely be called largely white-collar jobs. The problems facing people who will not fit into that new job creation dimension are very real and I do not think they are getting the attention they should be getting. I also mentioned the other day that the predictions and the projections of the IDA have rarely been met because, particularly over the last four years, they had to compete in a very tough international market and in the face of an economic recession which made their job very difficult. The type of achievement they have had by any standards, has been reasonable.
I suggest that perhaps it is time, while hoping that the new powers being entrusted to the IDA will help them to cope better with the position that exists now, for us to show a wider sense of vision in relation to the creation of employment. I mentioned last week in relation to areas in which the IDA are expanding and hoping to introduce new types of industry, certain developments in the heavy industries and the small industries. This is to be welcomed.
The IDA have had an excellent record in regard to ecology. Although they have had to fight very hard for jobs it appears that they have always been able to sustain a high concern for the quality of the physical and social environment. They have not thrown caution to the winds in the pursuit of jobs. It is to be hoped that the local authorities who have the statutory responsibility for such protection, will, to say the least of it, keep pace with the record of the IDA in this area. There is some evidence, however, to indicate that there is some disquiet about the way some local authorities do not measure up to the requirements.
I tried to delineate the dimension of the problem, the need in generally accepted statistical terms to create approximately 30,000 new jobs every year. I also mentioned that the traditional safety valve of emigration is no longer there. In fact, we have a small trickle of immigration which underlines the fact again that the old solutions will no longer work. At the heart of this matter, for me at least, is the increasing threat of millions of young people who are without jobs or without the prospect of jobs. There are nearly six million under the age of 25 unemployed in the seven largest OECD countries. There are almost four million young people who have left schools and universities in the countries of the EEC who are still unplaced. The Community calculate that in 1982 there will be some 3.3 million 16-year olds while the number of people reaching 65 years will only reach two million, which leaves a net surplus on the job market of around 2.3 million.
In some countries youth unemployment has doubled, in others it has trebled while in others it has quadrupled. There is a particular cause of concern about young girls under 20 years of age. This difficulty is an international one and I do not expect that any set of politicians in this Chamber will have instant answers to it. I would like to think that all sides of the House would combine to try to ensure that practical measures are proposed and genuinely fight to create useful and socially fulfilling roles for our young people and our not so young people. That is about where we were when the debate was adjourned.
I want to point to the background to unemployment. Sometimes when we talk across the floor of the House we talk about figures, reports from consultative committees, and percentage increases. The job facing the IDA of unemployment and job creation is essentially a human one. Any organisation such as the IDA who set out to do the job will have to do so, not as an isolated unit of policy, but in the context of a whole social philosophy with implications for all sections of society. Normally the debate tends to be about numbers of jobs but there are other issues which are of legitimate concern and deserve our legitimate interests. They are related not only to the numbers of jobs but to the quality of jobs.
Recorded figures do not reveal the whole problem. Many young people are looking for jobs which are more stable and more satisfactory. Many young people who are relatively better qualified and skilled, in the traditional and accepted sense of those words, are looking for outlets for advancement. They are no longer willing to accept standards which were acceptable to some degree in the past, perhaps. Undoubtedly, this will create social tensions and social problems unless it is tackled. It will not be tackled merely by a topographical survey of numbers of jobs. There is a question here of personal self-fulfilment in the nature of the opportunities presented to people.
In some countries there is evidence that some young people do not even apply for employment because they are without hope that suitable employment will be forthcoming. There is the paradox that a higher level of unemployment amongst young people in one country than in another may, to some extent, reflect the fact that the labour market co-operates better there, or that there are more opportunities for young people. In 1975 10 per cent of the young people were unemployed in the United States, 55 per cent were working and 50 per cent were in fulltime education. These types of percentages are reflected in other countries such as Italy and some other European countries.
There is the very serious demographic problem that young people aged 15 to 24 years comprise an enormous and growing number of people for whom the future does not look too bright. There are many causes for that. We should face up to those causes. First, there is the deficit of new jobs, partly due to the fact that our economy and the larger economic environment in which our economy finds itself have policies based on the objective of a moderate but sustained recovery. This implies a relatively slow recovery of employment over a number of years rather than major actions by Governments or groups of Governments acting in a very determined and dynamic way.
The trend towards more capital intensive production places a premium on high levels of skills and experience. In other words, the day is coming when people will have to have some technical expertise if they are to have any hope of becoming employed quickly and at a sufficiently high level. Ironically, the increasing emphasis on technology will mean that fewer people will be employed in areas where they used be employed.
For example, approximately one dozen dockers are moving 20,000 tons of goods every week in one area of the port of Dublin, due to containerisation. This is the type of thing which will increase. There is also growing competition for jobs, complicated undoubtedly by major and unusual changes in the age composition of the labour force. The educational and preparatory years before one begins to work should also come in for scrutiny. Traditionally, the educational system was structured in such a way that it did not necessarily have any relevance or reference to working life, which is an astonishing statement if you think about it.
Obviously, rethinking is going on now in that regard. I certainly would oppose a total swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction where in effect, we would be educating only for technology and producing only technocrats. Education is a good and useful thing in itself, but there is greater room for bringing into education a dimension and an increasing awareness of the world which young people have to face. Much of the curricula in our schools, particularly in our secondary schools, has not had the requisite reference to that, although there is some evidence of change there but perhaps not as much as there should be.
The reason for this is that it reflects class values, and so on, and not that anybody was holding it back deliberately. Traditionally, there was a rather unusual social chasm between parts of the educational sector and some people felt certain types of jobs were beneath them, that one should get a nice clean job as opposed to a job which would involve manual work or physical labour. Those attributes are dying, and not before time.
There is also the increasing difficulty that, in the context of large and growing numbers of unemployed, firms may be more selective. In many cases they prefer older workers because of their accumulated skills, experience and work discipline. Quite conceivably, an employer may be able to pick up from the unfortunate pool of the unemployed, people with skills and experience. This would have been unheard of years ago. This makes it still more difficult for young people to get involved.
Conversely, many young people are hard to employ or train because they lack the basic skills of literacy, arithmetic and the ability to communicate. Perhaps it is only laterally, with the training facilities and the training authorities which were encouraged and set up, that these difficulties have been recognised. The basic point is, if you have a choice between a young person who is untried and untested and a person who is unemployed but has a good record in work, obviously it is difficult to opt for the younger person. That is a genuine problem besetting young people.
Many young people who are replying to advertisements are asked what experience they have. I am sure there are few Deputies who have not members of their families, or brothers, or sisters, or relatives, or constituents, in that position. They have to reply that they have no experience because no one has given them a start. That is another reason why young people find themselves in this very difficult position.
The consequences of all this are very serious. There will not be an increasing pool of unemployed people who will remain unco-ordinated and inarticulate and who will simply go away if we do not think about them. The contrary is probably true. Every new generation entering the labour force provides the skill and the educational basis on which the future depends. Therefore, to an extent, we are undermining the future. That is a point which could be developed at some length. I do not intend to do so except to say the way we manage the existing resources of people will have major implications for the future.
The whole question of the social integration of young people, their attitude to society, their belief in the democratic system, their hope in the future, their aspirations, their confidence that the democratic system can give them their right to work, will be at risk of being undermined unless major steps are taken.
In urban areas there is what I would call a certain amount of harmful feedback to younger children in homes where there are unemployed people. We should not neglect to consider these matters. An organisation such as the IDA primarily involved in creating jobs must have reference to the social implications of what they are doing.
Homes that have within them people who are not in jobs undoubtedly will suffer tensions. Youths and children seeing the increasing problems presented by the spectre of a parent out of work, or a brother or sister alienated from society due to that, will undoubtedly have a different attitude from the traditional one. It worries me that there might be what I call a ratchet effect—in other words, the more this disease spreads the more corrosive its effects on the family and the more discontented, unsettled and disgruntled society as a whole becomes as a result.
The question is will this new proposal answer many of these problems. As the cliché has it, it is obviously a step in the right direction, or perhaps a number of steps, but I do not believe it will answer the problems and I do not think it is intended to answer them. Perhaps the proposed consortium is expected to answer the problems but from the little information one has in the context of the Official Report I do not believe it will have that result. One wishes it the best but, frankly speaking, it seems little more at this stage—it may take structure and form later on—than a meeting of representatives of organisations, all of whom are already in difficulties in relation to the role they play in terms of creating jobs. If this is the primary initiative and the major frontal onslaught of the Government I do not think it augurs that well. However, it is early days yet and I would not really judge it because obviously we will have an opportunity again of looking at it but I would like to put forward one or two ideas.
Much more basic re-thinking is essential if we are to cope genuinely with the widest possible range of implications of the unemployment problem, as it is called. Before I deal with this I want to make one point about the IDA's projections and the degree to which they have failed in certain areas. It should be underlined that the degree to which the heart of the eastern region has traditionally been starved of funds, of a land bank and so on, is unfortunately producing the most detrimental results. I do not know who was responsible and I do not care but, looking back, it was a shameful attitude to take when you had the population of Dublin increasing, not alone in terms of its own natural birth rate but also by migration from other countries and you had in effect a planned policy of encouraging industrial growth and job creation only in areas outside Dublin. I know the IDA are staging a sort of late recovery in that regard and doing their best but the fact remains that, unlike other parts of the country, there is no land bank here despite the fact that the total number of acres purchased by the IDA, according to their 75th report, numbers 4,175 at a cost of £8.75 million. Apparently, not one acre is in the inner Dublin area and only a few in the greater Dublin area as a whole, and these very much by way of an attempt at latter day recovery.
Unemployment in Dublin since 1974 has risen by 60 per cent and there are just under 40,000 people on the dole. Much of that must stem from the policy of saying to the Dublin area: "You are healthy. You will look after yourself. We must try to build and create industry and employment in other areas." I wish these areas the best but, looking back, it is almost incomprehensible how that policy was allowed to develop and carried on remembering that we have practically half the population of the entire country living in the city and its environs and increasing all the time. The Minister might consider some way of encouraging the other counties which distil population into Dublin to contribute in a positive way, not necessarily financially, to the recovery Dublin needs to make. It is fair that people should be entitled to move wherever they wish but, if substantial numbers come into Dublin, then a little of the back-up, expertise and the finance should also come with them.
The Government should consider deflecting funds to meet the need which exists in Dublin. The number of jobs created would appear to imply that all is not that bad because we have retained a reservoir of jobs but that is not as comforting as it should be because of the plight of the semi-skilled and unskilled worker. The IDA type job is not the job usually which suits these people and we are, therefore, having job creation at the expense to some degree of people who are semi-skilled or unskilled. Strides have been made in regard to training and undoubtedly that should help but the nub of the problem is those people who are not qualified to cope with employment competition particularly when you have, as I said earlier on, people in the employment market at the moment who are highly qualified.
The question is what to do and how to tackle this problem. We should have a totally new vision of the whole nature of employment. The traditional policy of the State and, indeed, of west European states generally is that you allow free market forces to operate, you encourage them, you invite them and you incite them to invest and that will probably work out all right on the day, but it has not worked out all right and it will not work out all right. We have an enormous and growing unemployment problem in the west European economy. With the increasing improvement in technology, with the dramatic implications of computer technology and the increasing involvement in industry and commerce of what might be described generally as the fruits of scientific progress, the trend will be for fewer people, relatively speaking, to be employed rather than more.
Politicians should ask themselves honestly is full employment, as we talk about it, a myth? It has never existed. It usually crops up like a clarion call in the election manifestoes of political parties. This is a disservice to the unemployed and to the young who hope for employment in the future. If politicians look into their hearts they will, I think, accept that it is perhaps time to consider the alternative to the full employment situation. There is a possibility that the jobs simply are not there and never will be there and that a whole new definition of employment is necessary if we want to stave off the traumatic social effects of increasing degradation and stigma which attaches to people who are unemployed. Secondly, if we want to tap this totally unused resource of people who are unemployed and who can give that most valuable social contribution, which is themselves as people, then it is time that the State and the IDA thought about the implications of this. One of the stumbling blocks is that we think in terms of output, productivity and commercial profit and all that is linked inevitably with jobs.
Now many of the top global companies have admitted and demonstrated that providing for the whole human family no longer provides a major technical problem. That can be done and it can be done fairly easily and in an orderly and acceptable fashion but this possibility poses an overwhelming question which is at the root of the whole unemployment problem. To take a figure, when 50,000,000 people are more than adequate to provide for all what will you then do with the other 2,950,000,000? Can you continue to offer them full employment when employment is daily diminishing? Can you still offer them the old deceitful, dishonest political ploys? It simply will not work. I know I leave myself open to the accusation of not being wholehearted and enthusiastic about creating new jobs. I deny that emphatically. There will always be a need to create new jobs and I want every resource of the State directed to doing just that but that does not mean we, and particularly honest politicians, should exclude the possibility that the numbers of jobs will never again be created because science, population explosion, demographic trends and technology indicate that it is just not on. I am asking for an honest acceptance that this could be considered as a possibility.
What are the prospects, then? First, we should make a clear distinction between work and toil. Ideally, work is something a worker wants to do, is useful and fulfilling to himself and makes a social contribution as well as satisfying the need of the organisation with which he is associated. Toil is work which diminishes the human being as such. It is toil which is essentially exploiting because it treats man as a unit, a number, tosses him on the scrap heap when it has squeezed dry the best years of his life and has no further use for him. It is degrading. I do not particularly relish the fact of massive Government-subsidised attempts to create toil, as opposed to useful work.
One of the most exciting prospects facing us is the great benefit science and technology are bringing us as release from that toil and the usefulness and the great social contribution which people can make to society, given the opportunity to express themselves in this way rather than being squeezed dry by jobs that are essentially toilsome. The IDA may have to think along these lines in the future. A quotation from a previous General Secretary of the United Nations, U Thant, might be in order since it hints at this when he said that the central stupendous truth about the developed economies today is that they can have, in anything but the shortest run, the kind and scale of resources they may decide to have. It is no longer resources that limit decisions; it is the decision that makes the resources. This is a fundamental revolutionary change, perhaps the most revolutionary man has ever known—the point being that we are into a new situation, not a job problem but a new human problem and that is how we must face it.
In our last debate I was struck by the announcement of the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy in regard to new projects which were being created and which, hopefully, would mean about 1,500 new jobs in the Dublin area. I trust the number is right; we welcome the news. One of the proposed projects involves a computer systems company and the irony is that in creating new jobs here we are sign-posting the way to the eventual elimination of other jobs because the whole science of computers and micro-technology has major implications for employment which have not yet been fully accepted or considered, probably by many people in this House and in industry also. We shall find a large amount of work in storing, recording, passing information and so on being done by machines which is now being done by people.
What is the new definition of employment about and what must the IDA do if the IDA are the proper organisation, if a whole new structure is not necessary? First, there must be the realisation that the great global social challenges of today's world, the inhabitants of two-thirds of which are still hungry, would provide enough employment for everybody. One of the greatest needs of our cities is the need for companionship, people. The needs exist but many of them do not have a profit and loss account and you cannot say at any stage: "We made so much last year." These are the areas that will be left to the State because, understandably, the private sector will look after the profitable end of things— I am not bemoaning that. The areas of employment in the literal sense of the word—and I use it deliberately; people should think more about it when they use that word—are areas which have not had a high commercial profile. The fulcrum on which employment in future will chiefly turn must be people rather than profit, what I would call socially-conscious, socially-oriented endeavour rather than wealth-accumulating jobs, as they are termed.
Wealth is also an interesting word in regard to the creation of jobs because we have seen that many countries appear to become wealthier. What does it mean? Why does not increased production lead to increased wealth among the ordinary people? Growth rates around the world—they are wobbling a little at present—are between 5 and 10 per cent. In western countries the ordinary man in the street should be between one-tenth and one-twentieth wealthier each year. These countries should be at least twice as rich in 20 years. Their output has doubled in less than that, in about 15 years, and doubling times are becoming shorter. Therefore, you and I should be twice as rich every 15 years. Colleges and other institutions should be—not getting twice as much money— but twice as wealthy in real terms. Are they?
France is a very interesting example because she was slow in coming into industrial production. Between 1910 and 1939 her industrial production rose by only 5 per cent. But between 1948 and 1965 it rose by 220 per cent. In 17 years Frenchmen should have been visibly 220 per cent richer. Were they? To equate money with wealth is far too simplistic. This points again to the nature of the enterprise which traditionally has been allowed to make up the totality of our job effort and it is no longer good enough. We need a new effort. It is difficult to introduce innovations in these areas. I recall a quotation from Charles Dickens when he spoke about a savage mode of keeping accounts on notched sticks being introduced into the Court of the Exchequer. In the reign of George III, an inquiry was made by some revolutionary spirit as to whether pens, ink and paper and so on being in existence at the time, this obstinate adherence to an obsolete custom might continue. All the red tape in the country grew redder at the bare mention of this bold and original conception and it took until 1826 to get those notched sticks abolished and replaced by pens and pencils. Old ideas die hard and old traditions even harder.
We are faced with an increasing number of people out of work despite everybody's best efforts. When we talk about creating jobs—I mean work that is useful, not toil; work which is ennobling, enriching and fulfilling; is there anybody who denies that work should have these attributes?—we are talking about an enormous problem needing a whole new vision. Other speakers quite rightly emphasised the creation of new jobs without, however, much regard to whether they should be toil or work, and so I think it fair that this emphasis should be put principally by me as opposed to dwelling at length on the need to create new jobs regardless of their nature. These new opportunities will be vastly publicly subsidised and probably increasingly so, as we see from this Bill under which the IDA will find itself very committed and involved in companies. That I welcome as an opportunity of ensuring public accountability.
What does the unemployment problem really mean? There is the fear arising from unemployment resulting from automation. It may be exaggerated but it rests on a hitherto accepted natural law that if one does not work one does not eat. That is the reason for the trauma which people out of work for long periods suffer. Society makes them feel that they are less than their peers and there is more than a hint of a social stigma on a man or woman who has been out of work for a long time. Why should a man suffer the stigma of unemployment if he has made every conceivable effort to employ himself usefully and if the traditional attitude of the State is not to get directly involved in the jobs situation, but to leave it to private enterprise to look after, and if that does not work, the State is just sorry about it? That is not acceptable, and as a notion it is obsolete in the face of what I have been trying to portray as a totally new situation existing at the moment.
If what I am saying is considered, it will be seen that perhaps there is a degree to which this obsession with ensuring that everybody is doing some sort of work every day is a symptom of what I would call social therapeutics—employing people merely to fill their days with drudgery. That is not an objective in which the State should be interested. The State should be interested in creating necessary employment. It should encourage people to get involved in jobs which arise due to the operation of free market forces but it should not compel people to feel that unless they are involved they are not equal to their fellowmen. A number of unnecessary jobs have been created in the past, merely because we accept traditionally that people must be employed, without reference to the nature of the work or the benefit of it on those employed or on society. Business consultants showed long ago that collecting dog licences costs a lot more than they bring in in revenue. Since the abolition of the vast part of the car tax, I have no doubt that the cost of the car registration system is greater than the finances accruing from it. To be doing useless work diminishes one's human dignity. This attitude to employment must be reconsidered.
There will always be a need for job creation, but full employment is little more than a myth. It has never existed and it will never exist. It would be tragic if these implications were not honestly faced by the Government. Vast millions of people will be, in the traditional sense, unemployed. That does not mean that they will be unemployable if government are willing to get involved in the creation of structures where people will be involved in work which is useful and socially productive, not necessarily productive in money terms. These structures must be created if we are to head off the inevitable demographically horrific implications which exist due to the enormous numbers of people unemployed in the world. Some people might say that this is a lot of idealistic, utopian stuff, but as far as I am concerned it is the height of common sense. Rather than carrying on lowering the price to foreign investment, let us accept that we cannot expect foreign investment and the investment of the domestic entrepreneur to make up for slack which is being created by advances in technology and science and by population development.
If this vast pool of people is allowed to languish unemployed, the result will be increasing disgruntlement, increasing seediness in their lives, increasing tension in their homes, increasing lack of pride and confidence of children in their parents, increasing social tensions and eventually trouble, violence and revolution. That is the prescription facing us. Things are not bad at the moment in the sense that trouble has not spilled over as yet on to the streets. The reason is that people are being bought off. It is almost as costly now to have people out of work as to have them in work. We recognise that a man who has tried to get a job and has failed should not suffer at least from the point of view of the deprivation of his basic needs and the needs of his family. The first rung of the ladder about which I am talking is implicit in that recognition. No longer will it be economically as acceptable to allow people to be involved in work structured by the Government which does not have a profit and loss account but which is socially useful, and may not be productive in the usual sense of that word.
The traditional response to that sort of work is that we cannot provide it because it would cost too much money. It is costing money right now to have people unemployed and it will cost more because politicians being the people they are will want to buy off any signs of trouble and the unemployed will become an increasing pressure group. The unemployed will become more conscious that by using pressure they will get action. We can expect developments in that area.
It is sad to see this vast potential of human resource going to waste. As a representative for part of the inner city I am struck by one of the crying needs there, the need for people to socialise with others, the need for community work and social work, the involvement of people preserving, protecting and improving the lot of their community. I consider that useful work; it is more useful than producing a new washing machine. This type of work is worthy of the State's involvement and attention as a possible way of helping to heal the great problem of unemployment. It is a legitimate area of concern and the State should at least think about it. Maybe we need a much enlarged IDA type body to deal with the creation of coherent structures to humanise the lot of those who are no longer toiling through no fault of their own. In overall terms I do not believe the cost would be much greater. In the long term, the cost would be minimal compared with the cost of allowing the present situation to fester, and that is what is happening. Man is a social person whose social activities are not motivated by money.