Unemployment to fall below 5% but economist warns more needs to be done

Unemployment to fall below 5% but economist warns more needs to be done

The national unemployment rate is still on course to fall below 5% next year, assuming a hard Brexit is avoided, but numerous issues need to be addressed in the labour market for it to truly thrive, one economist has warned.

Latest CSO figures show unemployment fell to 4.8% in October, down from 4.9% in September, and from 5.7% in October of last year.

“While on the surface the Irish labour market looks healthy, there are a lot of faults that need to be mended,” said independent economist Alan McQuaid.

The CSO figures show a marginal increase — to 12.3% — in the youth unemployment rate last month.

“There is clearly a problem about the number of jobs available for school leavers and new graduates from college, and the appalling treatment of these students by potential employers.

“There should be more encouragement, in second-level, for students to take apprenticeships and away from the overcrowded university system,” said Mr McQuaid.

He also pointed to unequal pay for female workers and the issue of the mental wellbeing of employees as areas of the labour market that need more attention.

Chambers Ireland welcomed the headline CSO data, but has urged better use of the National Training Fund to focus on in-work training to help companies address emerging skills gaps.

“As we approach full employment we must be mindful of the challenges of such a tight labour market. It’s increasingly challenging for many businesses to find and retain talent leading to increased skills gaps and higher labour costs,” said Chambers CEO Ian Talbot.

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