You are here: Home > News & Events > Shared Island: Projects, Progress & Policy The Good-Jobs Agenda—new paper from NESC Secretariat

Shared Island: Projects, Progress & Policy The Good-Jobs Agenda—new paper from NESC Secretariat



Good Jobs: A Shared Interest on the Island

To view the paper click here


Good jobs are needed on all parts of the island of Ireland.  ‘Poor’ jobs, low pay and precarious forms of employment are not new and digitisation, climate transition and globalisation have the potential to create more.  The Covid-19 highlighted the high societal value placed on jobs in sectors such as healthcare, social care, public transport, retail, hospitality, and other essential services.  However, for many individuals these jobs are low-income and higher risk.

‘Good jobs’ policy aims to tackle these sources of deepening labour market inequality. A new NESC Secretariat Paper explains that  a ‘good jobs’ agenda is a drive  to improve the quality and productivity of work and the experiences, incomes and standard of living of workers.  The agenda is focused on measures and actions to improve job quality within the labour market. The paper draws on interviews with stakeholders in Ireland and Northern Ireland and finds strong support for an all-island approach to ‘good-jobs’.

Dr. Damian Thomas, author of the report, argues that there is no one definition: good jobs means different things to different people and in different places.  He argues that the creation of good jobs, suitable to the economic, social and environmental context, depends on a coordinated and collaborative approach.  The good jobs agenda needs be owned by networks of public and private coalitions, in a given area or region.  These networks need a deep commitment to intensive interaction, learning and review. They need to work with business, agencies, citizens and stakeholders, communities and experts to figure out how to improve the quality of jobs and opportunity to earn decent living.

The devolved administrations in both Scotland and Wales have introduced initiatives designed to substantially increase the incidence of Fair Work in their labour markets.  Both the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government have also adopted strategies and policies that are supportive of the Good Jobs Agenda.

The paper helps identifies a number of important issues which will shape the development of an all-island approach to ‘good jobs’. These include labour market mobility; cross-border working and a coordinated approach to skills and apprenticeships. It also notes that undertaking work on a shared island dimension would be more impactful if the relevant Departments or Agencies in the North and South were jointly mandated to do so. The paper notes that the ICTU Retail Sector Group has initiated a new campaign designed to address low pay, insecure work, and rebuild the sector across the island post-Covid-19.

The paper is a foundation for NESC further work on how problems and challenges more generally might be resolved, supported and progressed by a Shared Island perspective.


For further information, please contact:

Dr. Damian Thomas

The National Economic and Social Council


Mobile no: 0864678915



Note to Editors

NESC Work on Shared Island

This paper is published as part NESC’s ongoing Programme of Research on the Shared Island Initiative.

NESC is undertaking this work at the request of the Department of the Taoiseach. NESC are responding to a request from the Department of the Taoiseach to carry out research and to produce a comprehensive report on the Shared Island in 2021.

The NESC research will contribute to building a shared knowledge base and understanding about possible ways in which greater co-operation can emerge across a number of economic, social and environmental areas in Ireland, North and South, and also between these islands East and West.   The research will not address the constitutional question, but will focus on sustainable economic, social and environmental development issues in line with NESC’s strategic remit.

About the National Economic and Social Council (NESC)

The National Economic & Social Council (NESC) was established in 1973.  NESC is an expert advisory and consultative body, focusing on strategic economic, social and environmental policies.  The Council was set up to analyse and report to the Taoiseach on strategic issues relating to the efficient development of the economy, the achievement of social justice and environmental sustainability.  It addresses the public system and the institutional challenges related to implementation, monitoring and learning.  It is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach.  The members of the Council are appointed by the Taoiseach, for a three-year term.  They are representatives of business and employers’ organisations, trade unions, agricultural and farming organisations, community and voluntary organisations, and environmental organisations; as well as heads of Government departments and independent experts.  The Council has published 149 agreed reports on a wide range of policy issues, as well as research papers by its professional Secretariat and other experts.


For further information, please contact:


Dr Larry O’Connell, Director


T: 01 8146332





Follow us @Nescireland