Priority 4: Liveability, high skilled workers & education
24 March 2017
Making Ireland a better place to live and work is crucial in a post Brexit environment. Whatever upside is available to Ireland from capital flight as a result of Brexit will not be full realised in the absence of concrete action to tackle liveability issues such as housing and childcare. Indeed if significant investment in our major cities is not forthcoming then any Brexit benefits will quickly exacerbate existing shortages in housing and infrastructure capacity.
Housing - Ireland needs between 35,000 to 40,000 new homes each year to meet demand. Housing is now among the top labour market issues employers are facing and is posing a serious challenge to our competitiveness. At a fundamental level we need to reform how we deliver social and affordable housing in Ireland.
Childcare - Ireland needs to have the social infrastructure in place to ensure that work pays for individuals. Ireland's childcare costs reduce the incentives for parents entering the workforce. They are amongst the highest in the OECD, accounting for 53.5% of the average wage in Ireland, compared to an average of 27.6% in other OECD countries. This is largely because in other countries, childcare costs are heavily subsidised by the state. Once children are then of school going age, not only is affordability an issue but availability is one too as there is a limited range of after-school services which cater for working parents. The OECD has acknowledged that Ireland has one of the highest overall levels of benefits (cash and services) for parents of any EU country. However, the current use of these funds is poorly targeted, as payments are universal and are not means tested.
Education funding It is a simple fact that high skilled workers will not move to Ireland's urban areas post-Brexit unless there is appropriate places and supports in the education system; particularly in this context funding for schools is needed where the international baccalaureate is available. A wider solution to higher education funding is also required in order to strengthen Ireland's international reputation and underpin a strong supply of quality high-skilled talent.