Pub­lic sec­tor re­cruit­ment should slow

The Irish Times - Business - - NEWS -

There has been a nar­ra­tive in re­cent years that Ire­land does not have enough pub­lic ser­vants in key ar­eas such as health, ed­u­ca­tion and polic­ing.

After Bud­get 2018, this ar­gu­ment is start­ing to look flimsy. The bud­get doc­u­ments point out that since the end of the mora­to­rium on hir­ing in 2014, pub­lic sec­tor num­bers have grown by more than 3 per cent per an­num on av­er­age, equat­ing to an ad­di­tional 8,000 jobs each year and an ad­di­tional €1.8 bil­lion in pay bill ex­pen­di­ture be­tween 2014 and 2017.

The spend­ing re­port with the bud­get says “re­cent growth in pub­lic ser­vice staffing means that at the end of 2017 over­all num­bers will be ap­proach­ing peak lev­els”. And hir­ing will con­tinue in 2018, with the bud­get promis­ing an ad­di­tional 1,800 front­line health staff, 1,300 ad­di­tional teach­ers and the re­cruit­ment of 800 gar­daí and also 500 civil­ian posts in the Garda or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The bud­get spend­ing re­port says this builds ca­pac­ity in the pub­lic ser­vices and al­lows ser­vices to be im­proved. It adds, how­ever, that it is “likely that more mod­est growth” in num­bers will be re­quired in fu­ture, but that a con­tin­ued fo­cus will now be needed on the “level and com­po­si­tion” of the over­all pub­lic sec­tor work­force. In other words, we are close to the point where the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Ex­pen­di­ture will be putting the brakes on re­cruit­ment – as­sum­ing the Gov­ern­ment agrees. With both pub­lic pay and num­bers on the rise again, the pub­lic sec­tor pay bill will rise to €17.4 bil­lion next year, up 5.6 per cent on 2017. It all adds up to a con­sid­er­able com­mit­ment of cash to pub­lic ser­vices since the floor of the re­ces­sion. Paschal Dono­hoe (inset) cor­rectly ob­served in the bud­get speech that we do not have the money to throw at prob­lems. The num­bers are now there. The fo­cus now must be on de­liv­ery.

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