After the crisis: recovery and good jobs in Ireland


The quality of jobs is back on the agenda. Many countries have seen a growth in jobs where workers are badly paid, subject to arbitrary discipline and have little job security. It is clear that especially in the USA and the UK these trends were in place long before the crisis. The rising number of the ‘working poor’ has undermined the belief that employment is always the best cure for poverty. Any recovery cannot be simply a return to growth as it used to be, because the growth we had before the crisis was already stunting the lives of many ordinary people.

FEPS and TASC have set up a a project to investigate how jobs have been changing in Ireland from the boom through the crisis and into a possible recovery. Understanding past and present trends requires systematic comparison with selected EU countries, but also consideration of the EU level itself. This will help to identify the scope for change: what are the possible policy options at national and Union level, what are the strategies for progressive actors, above all for the trade union movement itself?

The project will use existing data sources to identify overall trends. The core of the project is a close up analysis of work in four sectors using systematic interviewing: IT/software, financial services, construction and hospitality.

The research team will liaise with international researchers, in particular from two comparison countries: Greece and Italy.  An initial report will be workshopped with reviewers from Ireland and the comparison countries. Once validated in this way, a research report will be presented at a policy conference attended by stakeholders (in particular trade unions and progressive politicians) to develop concrete policy proposals.

Principal Investigator

James Wickham, Fellow Emeritus, Trinity College Dublin

Research and policy related output 

Background studies 

Alicja Bobek and James Wickham (2015) Employment in the Construction Sector

Alicja Bobek and James Wickham (2015) Employment in the Financial Sector

Alicja Bobek and James Wickham (2015) Employment in the Hospitality Sector / Highlights of the study / Press Release

Alicja Bobek and James Wickham (2015) Employment in the ICT Sector

Selected background material

Clark, Tom and Anthony Heath (2014) Hard Times: The divisive effect of the economic slump. Yale UP.

Eurofound (2012) Third European Quality of Life Survey - Quality of life in Europe: Impacts of the crisis.  Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union

Eurofound (2013) Employment polarisation and job quality in the crisis: European Jobs Monitor 2013.  Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union

Eurofound (2014) Drivers of recent job polarisation and upgrading in Europe: European Jobs Monitor 2014  Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union..

Goos, M. and Manning, A. (2007). 'Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The rising polarization of work in Britain.' Review of Economics and Statistics 89.1: 118-33.

Holmes, Craig (2014)., 'Why is the decline of routine jobs across Europe so uneven?', SKOPE Issues Paper 33 (November 2014).

Knox, Angela, Chris Warhurst and Barbara Pocock (2011) 'Job Quality Matters', Journal of Industrial Relations 53.5: 5-11.

Krings, Torben, Elaine Moriarty,  James Wickham et al (2013) New Mobilities in Europe: Polish Migration to Ireland post-2004. Manchester UP

Leschke, Janine and Andrew Watt (2008) Job Quality in Europe. Brussels: ETUI

NESF - National Economic and Social Forum (2006). Creating a more inclusive labour market. Dublin: National Economic & Social Development Office.

O'Connell, Philip J. and Helen Russell (2007) 'Employment and the Quality of Work', Fahey et al eds, The Best of Times? Dublin: IPA pp. 43-66.

Wickham, James (2015) 'Irish paradoxes: the bursting of the bubbles and the curious survival of social cohesion' S. Lehndorff ed., Divisive Integration: The triumph of failed ideas in Europe - revisited.  Brussels: European Trade Union Institute, pp. 127-147.