Harris: 'Broken' social contract for next generation must be restored

Further education minister says he understands why 57% of college leavers are planning to emigrate
Harris: 'Broken' social contract for next generation must be restored

Simon Harris: 'We have an awful lot of work to do.' Picture: Jim Coughlan.

The social contract for the next generation is "clearly broken", the further education minister has said, adding the Government must work to restore it. 

Simon Harris said he would not consider emigrating if he was leaving college today, but he understands why 57% of young people in a CSO survey say that they plan to.

However, Mr Harris said the Government must work to restore the social contract for those people who do not want to leave.

"There's an awful lot of work that we need to do to make sure that the social contract is restored particularly with the next generation," he told Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1.

"The right to be able to afford to buy a home, the right to work/life balance the right to affordable childcare is a real issue...and always making sure that work pays."

While he stopped short of echoing his party leader Leo Varadkar's comment that "the grass isn't always greener" abroad, Mr Harris said that "all countries have their challenges". 

He said that he understands that people's frustrations with Ireland can come to the fore when asked a survey question, the CSO's figures show that more people came back to Ireland last year than left.

Expanding third level

Mr Harris will announce a new system aimed at expanding access to third-level education later on Tuesday. 

He said that it was important to do this because "some people don't excel in rote exams".

"You could have two people sitting side by side in school — one does well in the Leaving Cert but the other who may be as good an engineer doesn't because they were not good at Peig Sayers."

On the prospect of the reshuffle, Mr Harris said that he does not foresee him being assigned to his former job as health minister. 

He said that he loves his role in further and higher education but said that he will not find out about his future until next Saturday.

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