The OECD compiled ‘Building more resilient and inclusive labour markets: how does your country compare?’ in preparation for the meeting of labour and employment ministers last week.
That meeting was chaired by Tánaiste Joan Burton and saw ministers agree to review the OECD jobs strategy in order to build more resilient and inclusive labour markets.
Ms Burton told her fellow international politicians that, despite the severity of the crisis here, the Government had managed to take a number of positive steps including increasing the national minimum wage and improving workers’ rights, through the restoration of wage-setting mechanisms and legislating for collective bargaining, among other measures.
However, an examination of the OECD’s employment statistics shows just how far behind its colleagues Ireland is in the global recovery cycle. It puts the unemployment rate for Ireland at the end of the third quarter of 2015 at 9.1% — well behind the OECD average of 6.7% and almost twice the likes of Germany (4.6%) and Britain (5.3%).
Ireland (55.7%) also had one of the worst long-term unemployment ratios — percentages of the workforce who had been unemployed for more than 12 months. To put the Irish figure in perspective, the OECD average was 32.7%. In Canada the long-term unemployment rate is just 11% while in Britain, it is 28.2%.
Unsurprisingly, given the above statistics, percentage of the adult population in work here (63.5%) was well below the average of 66.2% for the OECD countries. In Iceland almost 85.5% of adults are in employment.
The international figures indicate Ireland is struggling comparatively to find work for low-skilled members of the population. Fewer than 50% of those who fall into the category are in employment. The international average is 55.2%, while in Britain it is 60%. Again Iceland is a top performer with over 80%.
One of the few areas where Ireland performs above average, albeit only just, is in its employment rate for women in the “prime age” years of 25 to 54. The OECD average is 67.4% while Ireland scores 68.1%. Kazakhstan tops the table with 85.8% followed by Sweden with 83.3%.
However, when it comes to young and old people, Ireland continues to perform relatively badly. That is especially the case for the younger generation.
The OECD’s document includes a table on the number of young people in member countries who are neither in education or training expressed as a percentage of all young people aged 15 to 29. The score for Ireland was 18.1% against an overall average of 16.5%. In Norway and Denmark just 7% of the young people fall into the category. The consequences of that statistic may explain another area where Ireland is again performing badly — literacy. The OECD found that when adults with poor literacy was expressed as a percentage of all adults (16 to 65 years), Ireland had a score of 17.4%. The OECD average was 15.5%. A host of European countries had better figures including Britain (16.4%). Norway (12.3%), and Netherlands (11.7%).