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Job prospects for speech therapists

In response to a letter published in the Irish Examiner on May 18, the Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists consider it important to clarify some of the issues highlighted.

Firstly, the student who wrote the letter is right — the job prospects for current new graduates is poor. There is huge demand for speech and language therapy for adults and children in services across Ireland. There are significant numbers of unemployed fully qualified therapists. The recruitment embargo has meant that services cannot recruit for vacant posts and few new posts are being created.

Some graduates are working in volunteer positions and these can vary in terms of content. These can provide excellent opportunities for skills maintenance and professional development. However, they are not equivalent to working as an autonomous speech and language therapist under professional supervision and are not considered under the competencies framework for full membership of the professional body.

Membership of IASLT is not a mandatory requirement to work as a speech and language therapist in Ireland or in any other country, though state registration is pending from the Department of Health.

Professional indemnity insurance can cover new graduates to work in private practice only if they have the appropriate supervision.

The requirement to have had a year of full membership before a letter of good standing is issued is one that comes from the Mutual Recognition Agreement.

Therapists need to apply directly to the professional body of the country they wish to work in. Details are available at www.iaslt.ie.

However, this does not address the core issue, which is that there is both a supply of qualified, highly skilled therapists and a demand for their services, but in the current situation there is a gap between the two, such that children and adults wait unacceptable durations for access to the fundamental human right to communicate.

Sinéad Kennedy

Chair

Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists

Dublin


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