In most cities, you won’t have to walk far to see a “Staff Wanted” sign. It could be looking out a window in a restaurant, bar, supermarket or hardware store. Employers are clamoring for more staff.
A study released yesterday by law firm Mason Hayes & Curran and the Irish Management Institute found that 30 per cent of companies cite staff shortages as their top concern for the coming year.
The post-pandemic job market has changed dramatically.
The widespread closure of businesses, ranging from fast food restaurants to high street retailers and everything in between, due to Covid has led many workers to reconsider their careers. The rise of the technology industry has provided workers with alternative opportunities and, in many cases, better working conditions than working at your local supermarket or fast food restaurant.
The latest figures from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) show that the unemployment rate is just 4.2 percent, equivalent to about 119,000 unemployed. It’s one of the lowest unemployment rates the country has ever seen.
But many unemployment benefit recipients have a good reason to be unemployed and need the state to step in with a safety net.
There are also long-term unemployed people who take advantage of the support who have no real intention of looking for a job.
Fine Gael sees itself as the party of business and entrepreneurship and wants to be seen fighting the corner of employers who can’t get anyone to work for them.
Some senior party figures do not believe that the jobseeker’s allowance should be increased along with all other benefits in next year’s budget.
They see this as an incentive for people to sit at home and not go out and look for a job.
This narrative is red meat for the Fine Gael grassroots – the folks who get up early in the morning and think anyone who doesn’t is a slacker.
It is also part of a now year-long campaign by Fine Gael to move from a party for all to a party for Central Ireland.
But, as said before, there are plenty of people who have legitimate reasons to be unemployed and record inflation is taking a toll on their pockets like everyone else.
There are no different prices in the supermarket or at gas stations for the unemployed.
The top rate for job seekers is currently 208 euros and that doesn’t get you very far these days.
It’s red meat for the Fine Gael grassroots – the folks who get up early in the morning and think anyone who doesn’t is a slacker
Admittedly, there are many other social benefits that the long-term unemployed could also claim.
Fianna Fáil and the Greens are likely to oppose any appeal by Fine Gael on unemployment benefits and recipients of the benefit will receive a similar if not the same increase as all other welfare recipients.
A significant increase in the minimum wage or moving closer to living wages could also help attract more people into the workforce.
The minimum wage is €10.50 per hour, which is also not going to get you very far at the moment.
The Low Pay Commission will make a recommendation before the budget, which the government generally accepts but is not required to do.
Fine Gael will again take the case of companies bouncing back from the pandemic and may not be able to bear the financial burden of paying staff, say an extra euro an hour.
The coalition has many big decisions to make in the coming weeks, with margins of error narrower than ever.
Pressure groups will line up with ministers face-to-face to present their cases, while citizens hope they have more cash in their pockets.
Political and ideological differences may need to be put aside to ensure the country can weather this period of economic upheaval.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/fine-gael-wants-to-reward-those-who-get-up-early-to-go-to-work-but-not-the-unemployed-41919617.html Fine Gael wants to reward those who get up early to go to work – but not the unemployed