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Brexit 'will hit older, less-skilled workers'

Men over 50 to bear brunt - Ibec


Brexit warning: Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: PA

Brexit warning: Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: PA

Brexit warning: Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: PA

Brexit may have disappeared from the headlines thanks to a talks extension, but that doesn't mean we have dodged a bullet - it's just that the day of reckoning has been postponed.

There was relief last week from the Department of Finance when it presented its economic forecasts that the delay meant the economy would not experience an immediate sharp stop.

But the warnings from Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and from the Central Bank of Ireland still stand.

The headline figures make worrying enough reading - economic growth all but coming to a standstill and the potential for a 10pc drop in the value of the pound potentially wiping out export markets in the UK as well as some firms.

That translates into job losses and recent research from employers group Ibec highlighted that the losers would likely be those who are already most at risk from competition from cheap imports, cheap overseas labour and whose chances of getting a new job were extremely slim.

Research from Ibec has shown that up to 30pc of workers in the Cavan/Monaghan area work in the most Brexit-exposed sectors, while fewer than 8pc are in cities.

"New research undertaken by Ibec has also shown that workers in the most Brexit-exposed sectors also finished school younger than the average across the economy. For example, only 17pc have a third-level qualification. This is compared to 40pc of workers in all other sectors," the business lobby group said in a report.

According to Ibec one in three workers in the most Brexit-exposed sectors is more than 50 years old and three-quarters of those are working in the most Brexit-exposed sectors, which are agri-foods and manufacturing.

"One in every five male workers is employed in one of these sectors, with much higher rates in rural areas," Ibec said.

"This, along with lower levels of academic qualifications, will have consequences for retraining and their ability to move to find work.

"This will be a significant challenge for regional and industrial policy no matter what form Brexit takes," Ibec said.

Meanwhile, across the Border, the wholesale and retail sector is Northern Ireland's largest employer and, along with the tourism sector, it could see the largest labour market impact.

While there are significant manufacturing bases within Belfast, female manufacturing employment is higher in rural areas of Northern Ireland, particularly in the food sector, which accounts for a third of all female manufacturing employment, suggesting a possible gender differential arising from the impact of Brexit.

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