LAB report, Ireland

The first LAB meeting started with a round table introduction. This was followed by a brief introduction of the STYLE project to the auditors, including a brief description of all WPs and a general overview of the specific tasks which are being carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway).

We subsequently illustrated our results to date relating to WP10 (Flexicurity), WP5 (Mismatch: Skills and Education), WP7 (Business Start-Ups and Youth Self-employment) and discussed them in detail together with the LAB members.

Ireland LAB

Main issues of debate

WP10 (Flexicurity)

During the first discussion on Flexicurity, the following points were discussed by the board:

  • Changes in social welfare in Ireland (undermining financial security for young people);
  • The Springboard programme1;
  • Importance of supports for those who are most disadvantaged;
  • Use of deprivation measures;
  • Growing divisions between the young people;
  • Use of the European Social Survey (subjective insecurity, well-being outcomes, level of employment security).

Following the discussions of over-education, there was a suggestion that the effect of skills mismatch on perceived insecurity and well-being could be included in the analysis.

WP5 (Mismatch: Skills and Education)

The ESRI team then presented their findings from a study of over-education in Europe over the period

1998 to 2012. The research examined the extent to which youth and adult over-education move together within countries and the degree to which there exists long-run relationships in the rates of over- education between countries. The determining factors of youth and adult over-education were also assessed. LAB members were asked for their views on the implications of the findings from both an Irish and youth labour market perspective to help progress with the research. An interesting discussion afterwards included the following topics:

  • Academic versus occupational focus and the lack of vocational alternatives;
  • The role of parental influence of educational participation;
  • Education through to work (fit to work) and the importance of business training in certain sectors;
  • Course durations;
  • The role, ability and effort of employers to source suitable candidates;
  • Gender issues around caring responsibilities;
  • Developments in the further education and training sector in Ireland;
  • Targets for Europe 2020;
  • The use of the term over-education as opposed to over-qualified/over-skilled;
  • Different measures of over-education;
  • Previous PIACC results and findings;
  • Socio-economic network effects;
  • The progression from second level schools to further or higher education;
  • The progression from higher education to the labour market;
  • Job mobility and the importance of the first job;
  • Competition and migration.

WP7 (Business Start-Ups and Youth Self-employment)

The NUI Galway team leading a study on self-employment opportunities for young people outlined the focus of WP7; presenting 1) their findings relating to Task 1, ‘A Policy Literature Review’, 2) the data and research questions for Task 2, ‘Mapping Patterns of Self-Employment and 3) the direction for Task 3,

‘Case Studies: Interviews and Fieldwork – Focus on Creative and ICT Industries. Under Task 1, the following was presented: 1. Definition and patterns of self-employment; 2. Policies to encourage self- employment and an evaluation of policies (where applicable); and 3. The quality of jobs associated with self-employment. The findings from the Irish national report and the synthesis report were given. Under Task 2, the following was presented: 1. A description of the analysis to be conducted on youth self- employment in Ireland. The research questions to be evaluated and the data sources to be employed were also outlined. Under Task 3, the focus of the case studies to be conducted was presented along with the sampling frame criteria. LAB members were asked for their guidance on the findings and information in relation to the interviewing of ‘young’ self-employed/SME owners operating in the cultural, creative and ICT industries. An interesting discussion afterwards included the following topics:

  • The growth of certain industries in Ireland e.g. craft and design and the lack of policy developments to support entrepreneurs;

The number of enterprises as part of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland has nearly doubled from 2009 to 2015. In 2009, there were 1,700 enterprises and in 2015, there are 3,000 enterprises. In light of this, there is a need for more timely policy, particularly in response to movements in entrepreneurship. Following the recent crisis, many qualified accountants, construction builders etc. have now set up a business in the craft industry space.

  • The value of case-studies;

Significant progress was made in relation to identifying subjects for the case studies in Task 3 where it is envisaged that the sample criteria will be met.

  • Education levels of the self-employed and differences across industries;

An interesting point was raised regarding further education and higher education and whether there are differences in the instances for self-employment. This is an important observation which will be considered for Task 3.

  • Definitions of self-employed versus entrepreneurs;

Caution was expressed surrounding the interrelated use of the term ‘self-employment’ and ‘entrepreneurship’. It was discussed how some individuals who are self-employed do not necessarily see themselves as being entrepreneurs. Suggested that a high percentage – even possibly the majority of the self-employed may not be entrepreneurs, especially in some industries (eg hair dressers; window cleaners). The lack of a standard definition of self-employment at an EU level further contributes to the interrelation between these two terms. A decision needs to be taken as to whether the focus is on self-employment or entrepreneurship. One of the data sources to be used in Task 2 i.e. the Quarterly National Household Survey includes a question where participants of the survey self-select if they are self-employed.

  • Little Knowledge of Available Supports;

Many individuals who set up a business are unaware of the supports available. One such support is the Seed Capital Scheme which allows individuals to reclaim income tax already paid in Ireland and use the funds to start up a business. However, participation in this scheme has been very low.

  • Fit for Work;

It was highlighted how many highly skilled individuals are not ‘fit for work’ as there is a poor focus on the transition from education to enterprise. Many sole traders do not receive appropriate business training.

  • Locational Factors of Youth Self-Employment;

The importance of evaluating youth self-employment across rural and urban settings to get a more comprehensive insight in terms of policy support was highlighted.


The Economic and Social Research Institute, Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2, Ireland.

Date: March 10th, 2015



ESRI – The Economic and Social Research Institute (hosting partner)
Seamus McGuinness, Helen Russell, Adele Bergin and Adele Whelan

NUI Galway – National University of Ireland, Galway
Maura Sheehan and Andrea Mc Namara

Whitehall School Completion Programme, Co-ordinator
Jennifer Cummins

Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI), Chief Executive
Karen Hennessy

National Economic and Social Council, Economist
John Sweeney

Irish National Association of the Unemployed (INOU), Head of Policy and Media
Bríd O’Brien

The Western Development Commission (WDC), Policy Analyst
Pauline White