Living wage proposals to be brought to Government before summer break

Open Doors Initiative launches new employment hub for migrants and employers

Proposals to introduce a living wage in Ireland will be brought to Government before the summer recess, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.

The living wage in Ireland is €12.90 per hour, according to a group of researchers, academics and social justice groups, known as the Living Wage Technical Group.

This is €2.40 higher than the national minimum wage, which stands at €10.50 per hour.

Mr Varadkar said introducing a living wage “will be an important change” for workers in Ireland.

He was speaking following the launch of Open Doors Initiative’s Pathways to Progress, a new employment support hub for migrants.

The organisation seeks to support marginalised groups to access further education, employment and entrepreneurship in Ireland.

Mr Varadkar said many changes to our public service that affect migrants “take far too long to implement”.

“I’m not too sure why this is, but it is possibly because issues affecting migrants don’t get the political attention that they deserve. They don’t have as strong a voice as they should have,” he said.

“I believe the Government and civil service as a whole needs to become more diverse. Unlike the private sector, the multinational sector and the health sector, our civil service in Ireland is almost 100 per cent white and ethnically Irish, and that doesn’t reflect the society that we now live in.”

Mr Varadkar said there has been a record number of applications for work permits, at about 30,000 per year.

They have tripled the number of staff to process work permit applications, Mr Varadkar said, in order to reduce the waiting time which currently can be up to 20 weeks.

On the new employment hub, Jeanne McDonagh, chief executive of Open Doors Initiative, said Ireland is now home to people from all over the world.

“Their routes to Ireland are different, but key to their integration and success in Ireland is the chance for a meaningful job or to establish a new business. Some are refugees, some are living in direct provision, some will have their status newly regularised, and others will come directly for work,” she said.

“Our new service aims to support all migrants in finding a decent job as they prepare to enter the Irish workforce, and to support employers as they seek to build an inclusive culture in their workplaces.”

Francesca McDonagh, chief executive of Bank of Ireland and chairwoman of Open Doors Initiative, said the new programme seeks to "harness the creativity and energy" of both migrants and Ireland.

“Coming from a family with a refugee and immigrant background, I know how important access to good employment is in building a new life in a new country,” she said.

“As an employer, I know how critical it is to a thriving business to have a diverse, creative workforce with talented, vibrant and inspiring people from all backgrounds shaping the organisation.”

The Open Doors Initiative also announced the first internship programme from one of its member companies.

Siro is offering a paid 12-week internship programme for six people who are refugees in areas including marketing, engineering, quality, health and safety, IT and administration, the organisation said.