National Recruitment Federation Annual Conference 2016

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Opening address by Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D.
City West Hotel - 28 April 2016


Check Against Delivery

I am delighted to be here in Citywest this morning, to officially open the Annual Conference of the National Recruitment Federation.

I would like to thank Director Geraldine King, and your President, Barbara McGrath for their invitation to join you today.

It is a pleasure to welcome delegates who have travelled from all over the country and abroad to attend the Conference, which has a very important focus on “Navigating the Future”.

Since coming into office, the Government’s top priority has been to get the country back working. The Action Plan for Jobs is focussed on stimulating employment growth and Pathways to Work on making sure that as many as possible of these new jobs are filled by unemployed jobseekers.

And that strategy has been paying off, with more than 2 million people now in employment and the unemployment rate falling to a new low of 8.6%.   And both the Department and the NRF have played a very important role in that.

A good reflection of the improving economy is the strength of the NRF itself – which continues to grow for the 5th year in a row and represents a sector worth over €2 billion. Last year client companies filled over 100,000 temporary and contractor roles and recorded a huge increase in permanent jobs being filled.

I know that positivity is very strong again for this year, with 19% growth predicted by the industry. That is great news – but also a big challenge. A challenge to deliver the talent required to meet current and future skills needs. It is a challenge that we all recognise and have important roles to play.

Pathways to Work sets out a comprehensive programme aimed at helping jobseekers to return to work. Together with the Action Plan for Jobs, Enterprise 2015, the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities, the Further Education and Training Strategy and the National Skills Strategy, it is designed to ensure that Ireland’s workforce is equipped to respond flexibly to the demands of a growing economy.

The Action Plan for Jobs is focused on stimulating employment growth; Pathways to Work on making sure that as many as possible of these new jobs and other vacancies that arise are filled by unemployed jobseekers.  It is a strategy that:

  • Aims to ensure that no one is left behind.
  • Recognises the importance of working in collaboration with industry and employers. 
  • Acknowledges the contribution of the recruitment sector.

We listen to important stakeholders. I established the Labour Market Council as an independent group of industry leaders and labour market experts to oversee the effective delivery of the Pathways to Work strategy and to advise the Government on wider labour market policy issues.

A key focus of Pathways to Work is to enhance engagement with employers and their representatives. The Department has a dedicated central Employer Relations Unit and Employer Engagement Teams on the ground in every Division who encourage, support and incentivise employers to recruit unemployed people on the Live Register.

While we can be proud of the achievements of the past year, we still have a long way to go. There are still far too many talented people on the Live Register who are ready, willing and able to get back to work. People representing every sector of industry, every level of experience and every level of qualification- managers and professionals, skilled trades people; sales specialists, operatives and administrators all eager to take  the next step in their careers.

Staff in the Department are happy to work with employers to match these clients with available jobs. And we provide a really good cash incentive. With JobsPlus an employer can receive a cash payment of up to €10,000 - €417 per month for up to two years – for hiring someone off the Live Register.
Over 3,000 employers large and small have already availed of JobsPlus to recruit almost 4,500 staff.

While the numbers are thankfully still falling, there are also a lot of unemployed people who have been out of the workforce for a long time. The new JobPath providers, Turas Nua and Seetec are providing them with intensive support to help them back to work.

Making sure that unemployed people have the skills that are being looked for is key. I was pleased to recently launch the National Skills Strategy, aptly entitled “Irelands Future”. Because it is by looking towards the future jobs market and providing the skills required that we can create a sustainable recovery which is experienced by all. 

The planning and provision of education and training programmes by the Department of Education and Skills and its agencies is informed by the work of the Expert Group of Future Skills Needs which produces annual reports projecting the future skills needs of Irish industry.

My Department works closely with the Department of Education and Skills, SOLAS and the Education and Training Boards to ensure that the strategic reforms underway in the education and training sectors, like the establishment of Regional Skills Fora, are closely aligned with the needs of employers, workers and jobseekers. 

Programmes like MOMENTUM are specifically designed to provide training to long- term unemployed people to gain skills in areas with recognised skill shortages where existing vacancies have been identified.  Skillnet are also working with the Department to equip unemployed people with skills that are in demand.

But upskilling isn’t just something for the unemployed. It is something that needs to be at the core of recruitment services.  The NRF has a very important role in promoting high standards and professionalism in the recruitment industry. I am delighted to have the chance to meet with the graduates of the Certificate in Recruitment Practice - and pleased to hear that 5 of the Department’s newly-appointed Key Account Managers recently graduated from the programme.

These Key Account Managers will be working with the largest employers in the State – and one of them, Anna-Marie Gaines, is working exclusively with recruitment agencies to assist you in identifying suitable candidates for client companies.

I know that many of you use, the Department’s online jobs vacancy service.  A major redevelopment of the site is currently underway which will facilitate the matching of jobseekers to jobs advertised. It will enable users to readily identify candidates who meet their skills requirements. Data from the new system will provide real-time information on the skills and competencies being sought by employers and on any skills gaps. This will be very useful to the agencies seeking to address such gaps.

I am delighted to hear of the good working relationships between NRF members and Employer Engagement staff in the Department.  There are great opportunities for us to work together to improve our services to employers, workers and jobseekers. Staff from the Employer Relations team would be happy to explore these opportunities with you today.

Finally, I wish you all a very enjoyable and beneficial conference.



Last modified:28/04/2016