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Why aren't people taking up jobs as nurses, doctors and soldiers? The government plans to find out

The Public Pay Commission is to examine what are the main reasons for the recruitment and retention of staff in some sectors.
Oct 22nd 2017, 9:31 AM 21,590 131

IRELAND HAS A big problem when it comes to hiring and retaining people to work in the Irish health sector, the Defence Forces, and senior posts in the civil service.

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe briefed the Cabinet this week on the Public Service Pay Commission’s (PSPC) next phase of work which found there are “recruitment and retention” issues within these sectors of the public service.

The Commission, which was charged with examining pay levels across the public service, made its first report to government in May 2017, which informed negotiations on a successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Under a new agreement, it agreed to examine the issue of recruitment and retention difficulties that the public service are experiencing.

Hiring nurses and keeping them

The health system has long been experiencing issues related to hiring nurses and doctors, with unions blaming poor pay and working conditions for the reason graduates choose not to stay in Ireland.

Last year, Health Minister Simon Harris was on a mission to fill some 1,000 vacancies in the Irish health service, and even launched a special pop-up recruitment drive to woo Irish nurses to come home.

But just 36 people turned up to the first day of a HSE recruitment drive and 52 on the second day.

The issue of pay within the Defence Forces has also been highlighted in recent times, and gained momentum following the €50 million pay deal secured by the gardaí.

While the evidence collected by the commission suggests that there are no significant recruitment difficulties across the public service, it suggested that “a more comprehensive examination of underlying difficulties” needed to be undertaken within the public service “where such difficulties are clearly evident”.

The government agreed that such a review take place and endorsed the terms of reference for the audit yesterday, which will look at the main issues blocking recruitment and retention of people working in the public service sector.

Pay conditions

The review will take in the issue of current pay conditions, and any planned future pay adjustments, including the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) (the pay cuts imposed on public sector workers during the recession, which unions have called for a quicker re-instalment of payments).

Other issues that could be examined are why there is a lack of supply of newly qualified graduates. The commission will look at all aspects that could be a deterrent to taking a job here, such as the working environment and organisational issues, career structures, professional development and human relations issues.

The commission will also examine arrangements and best practice in other countries, to establish if there are aspects that Ireland can adopt that would make it more attractive to work in the Irish public service. After the audit is complete, the commission must submit a range of costed options for resolving the specific issues identified.

A final report to will be delivered to the Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe by end of 2018.

Donohoe said he updated his government colleagues on the next phase of work by the Public Service Pay Commission, adding that he is looking forward to meeting with them shortly to discuss this next exercise.

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Christina Finn

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