Just over a quarter of workers here are employed in what are deemed to be secure, high quality jobs, an analysis by UCD and the Nevin Economic Research Institute has concluded.
However, an equal proportion are employed in what is termed “precarious employment” with low pay and high job insecurity in many cases.
The research is based on data obtained from the UCD Working in Ireland Survey (WIIS) 2021.
The majority of those employed in the high quality jobs earn annual net salaries of between €40,000 and €60,000, the report states, usually with significant benefits attached.
The posts generally have a degree of flexibility and training provisions, but working hours tend to be longer with 60% working in excess of 41 hours per week.
Such positions are most likely to be carried out by men with a degree or higher-level qualifications and are mainly to be found in the managerial, professional, technical, scientific and administration sectors as well as in the FDI (foreign direct investment) sector.
At the other end of the spectrum, the poorer quality jobs are broadly divided into two categories.
The first is described as “demanding, highly controlled, precarious jobs” where workers face significant job insecurity, earnings are low and they tend to work hard over long hours and have poor work-life flexibility.
The second cluster, deemed “precarious, low-paid jobs”, are similarly characterised by insecurity and low pay, but are also typified by the provision of little training and few managements supports.
In between these two broad categories are jobs of moderate quality in which roughly half of the workforce is employed.
This in turn consists of two groups. The first consists of “secure, moderately good, collectively negotiated jobs” which provide secure, full-time, permanent employment.
While these jobs generally provide good benefits and perks, the pay is below or at average earnings levels.
These are mainly unionised jobs in the public sector and in large firms in the private sector.
The second “in-between” cluster is categorised as secure, relatively good jobs with strong employee-management relations.
Such jobs are characterised by secure employment, average to low earnings but, by contrast, they do not have union representation.
These jobs are typically to be found in foreign-owned organisations.
“The state can do more to improve job quality,” the report authors, John Geary, Professor at UCD’s School of Business, and Lisa Wilson, Senior Economist at the Nevin Economics Research Institute conclude.
“It could establish a set of minimum standards across a series of job quality dimensions. It could also do more regarding paternal leave. Shared maternity-paternity leave would lessen the care burden on women.”
They acknowledge that the options would likely be difficult to implement, but they claim that there is precedent in the national minimum wage, for example, and steps towards the achievement of a living wage, as well as sick pay and the forthcoming code in respect of the right to request flexible working.
“Another approach is for the state to enhance the role of sectoral collective negotiations between unions and employers,” the authors suggest.
“Good jobs enhance the productive capacity of an economy. Poor jobs do not and worse they lead to negative spill overs, including impaired wellbeing and health, where the state – to put it prosaically – is compelled to pick up the tab,” they conclude.