CSO Figures confirm rapid, meaningful responses from Government will continue to be required

Following the publication of yesterday’s (3 April 2020) live register figures by the CSO, Chambers Ireland calls on Government to ensure that post-crisis, the supports are there to ensure business can re-open.

Speaking today, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “Today’s CSO figures illustrate just how much damage has been done to businesses and to livelihoods right across the country. A surge of 24,400 new applicants for jobseekers’ allowances in the space of one month is remarkable in itself. Viewed alongside the figure of 283,037 persons receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the 25,104 benefiting from the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, assessing how deep the damage will be to the economy is difficult to gauge at this stage.

To see the progress made in job creation since the economic crash over a decade ago, wiped out in little under a month, is truly alarming.

The results of our national Network survey last week have shown some indication of what might come to pass in the weeks and months ahead, where 94% of businesses see their revenue declining over the coming three months, 73% of businesses expect their revenue to decline by in excess of 25%. We can only assume that the associated economic down-turn will contribute to further job-losses.

There are of course some positives to note, due largely to Government intervention over the past week, such as the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, which retains employees on payroll. Supporting that link between employer and employee throughout the crisis will be instrumental when the health threat abates and economic activity starts to return.”

Also speaking today, Chambers Ireland President and Director of Noel Recruitment, Siobhan Kinsella, spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the workplace.

“While today’s figures show one part of the economy, where thousands of people have found themselves temporarily unemployed, this is only one part of the story. The world of work in many industries continues but has changed utterly.

We’ve long talked of digital transformation and the future of work. COVID-19 has triggered a digital transformation, which in ordinary circumstances would takes years, in a matter of days. Entire organisations have moved to remote models, with employees, managers and directors responding to the crisis and running businesses from their own homes. In fact, the Chambers we represent right across the island are doing just this and responding to the needs of their members remotely and digitally.

Amid this economic crisis, there are opportunities to innovate and to reimagine our ways of work. Life-long learning, a priority of Chambers Ireland, is even more important now. Many training organisations, such as Solas and Skillnet, have responded and evolved their offering because of the crisis.

If we had one message to the workforce, it would be to engage in training and look at ways to upskill. Anything we can do to build on existing skills will, once this crisis passes, support future resilience and productivity. This message of course includes those in work and those temporarily out of work.”

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