27th May 2020
A report by The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has set out a detailed plan on the way forward for the country, amid the unprecedented economic global crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘No Going Back’ A New Deal Towards a Safe and Secure Future for All
Congress General Secretary Patricia King said:
the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to societies and economies around the world. This crisis has fundamentally changed the relationship between the state, businesses and workers.
The ICTU document ‘No Going Back’ sets out in detail how to revive the economy and ensure that workers are rewarded and protected as the country gradually emerges from the pandemic.
Patricia King said:
We believe that the length and depth of the recession will be determined, at least in part, by the policies we choose and values that guide us. Once the virus is in abeyance we can move to the stimulus phase of the recovery and there must be a new economic and social model based on progressive values – there can be ‘no going back’. Our document sets out how the country can use the crisis to debate what sort of society we want.
The Executive summary of the report highlights the need to greatly increase investment in education at all levels if we are to build a high productivity, high-skills competitive economy. This also means planning for increased demand in the future.
The report finds:
- There has, for many years, been a deficit in spending on education across the island of Ireland. For the Republic of Ireland, only two countries spent a lower proportion of national wealth on education.
- As we move forward from the current crisis, the lessons of the hugely damaging austerity agenda of successive governments that followed the last economic downturn must be acknowledged. The education system must be protected from further damage.
- The numbers of students in primary, post-primary and tertiary education have risen significantly in recent years. They are expected to continue to rise, especially in post-primary and tertiary education, until at least the middle of this decade.
- Spending on education generates positive externalities for the wider economy to the extent that it represents genuine investment in useful learning and critical thinking.
- Government spending on education per pupil is low in both jurisdictions compared to other high-income countries and just two thirds of the per-pupil spend in Switzerland. Both countries lag on a per pupil basis with the Republic lagging in terms of spending on primary and tertiary education.
- Similar shortfalls also exist within post-primary, further and adult education.