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Ireland. VET in Europe – Country Report 2011 - Europa

Ireland. VET in Europe – Country Report 2011 - Europa

Theme 1: General Context

Theme 1: General Context framework for the knowledge society1.1 Political and socio-economic contextIreland is a parliamentary democracy which consists of a House of Representatives (Dáil Eireann)and a Senate. Laws passed by the Parliament must conform to the Irish Constitution and thePresident must sign legislation for it to become law.The Republic of Ireland comprises twenty-six of the thirty-two counties of the island of Ireland. Theremaining six counties make up Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom. Ireland hasbeen a member of the European Community since 1973. Membership of the EU led to the adoptionof the NUTS regions in Ireland in 1993. In 1999, the Irish Government divided the country into twoNUTS 2 regions for structural funds purposes, the BMW (Border, Midlands and West) region; andthe SE (South East) region. The SE Region includes Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick and isthe wealthier of the two regions. The BMW region is the more rural of the two regions with lessindustry and services (particularly financial) and a greater reliance on government expenditure.Following the 2011 general election the Fine Gael Party supported by the Labour Party formed thecurrent Irish Government. The president, who serves as head of state in a ceremonial role, iselected for a 7-year term and can be re-elected only once. Michael Higgins was elected President onNovember 11, 2011.1.2 Population and demographicsThe total area of the Republic of Ireland is 84.421 sq km. The major centre of population is Dublincity and county and the other major cities are Cork, Galway and Limerick.Since the mid 1990s, there has been an increase in the birth rate, a corresponding decrease inemigration and a marked increase in immigration, resulting in a significant rise in the population.The 2006 census found that the population of Ireland had increased by 322,000 or 8% since theprevious census in 2002.Table 1 below sets out the Eurostat figures for the trends in total population for the EU-27 countriesand Ireland up to 2010.TABLE 1: TOTAL POPULATION (ON 1ST OF JANUARY), 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010GEO\TIME 2003 2006 2009 2010EU-27 486647831 493226936 499723520(p) 501105661(p)IRELAND 3,963,665 4,209,019 4,450,014 4,467,854Source: Eurostat; Date of extraction: 19 May 2011. (p) provisional. (pre 2011 preliminary Census results)The 2011 Census (preliminary results published in June 2011 3 ) found that the population of Irelandon Census Night 10 April 2011 has reached its highest level in 150 years. A total of 4,581,269persons are now living in the Republic, compared with the 2006 Census figure of 4,239,8483 The definitive results for the 2011 Census are expected in Spring 2012.6

persons, an increase of 341,421 persons or 8.1 per cent. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) saidthe results were about 100,000 more than predicted. The population growth has been driven by ahigh birth rate, with more than 70,000 births a year, and a strong inward migration until theeconomic downturn hit the country. While officials estimate that significant numbers are nowemigrating, these numbers are more than off-set by the high birth rate. While population growth hasbeen growing at about 1.6%, CSO officials forecast that it is likely to continue to grow over thecoming years, but at a slower pace.Table 2 below sets out the demographic trends in Ireland by age up to 2026. Although Irelandcurrently has the youngest age profile in the EU nevertheless the estimated number of persons aged65 years and over now exceeds a half a million for the first time ever. While the population cohortaged 25 64 is expected to increase by 790,000 over the period, the numbers aged over 65 is alsoexpected to increase rapidly leading to a significant ageing of the population by 2026.Table 2: Preliminary Population Trends by Age 2010 - 2026Age-Group 2010 2026 Change0 - 24 1,508,000 1,759,000 +251,00025 64 2,453,000 3,243,000 +790,00065+ 509,000 918,000 +409,000Total 4,471,000 5,920,000 +1,449,000Source: Central Statistics Office (CSO) Ireland. Population and Migration Estimates (2010) and Population and LabourForce projections* (2008) (*Based on MIF2 Scenario).Table 3 shows the projected number of persons aged 65 years and over, expressed as a percentageof the projected number of persons aged 1564. Although Ireland currently has the fewestdependent older people in the EU - approximately 17% in 2010, this proportion is forecast toincrease steadily to just under 44% in 2060.TABLE 3: PROJECTED OLD-AGE DEPENDENCY RATIO, 2010-2060GEO\TIME 2010 2015 2020 2030 2040 2050 2060EU 27 25.9 28.26 31.05 38.04 45.36 50.42 53.47IRELAND 16.67 18.37 20.23 24.63 30.6 40.4 43.57Source: Eurostat; Date of extraction: 19 May 2011The bigger than expected population increase reported in the preliminary findings of the 2011Census will have strong policy implications for the Irish Government and will place additionalpressure on services, such as education and training, at a time when the Government is trying toreduce spending.7

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