The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council has said that overall the country’s “macroeconomic fundamentals” are strong.
In its Competitiveness Scorecard report, published every three years, the council found that Ireland scores well on education and skills, but comparatively worse when it comes to transport and housing.
Ireland has the second highest share of workers with third level education in the OECD and the highest proportion in the EU of so-called STEM graduates, which covers subjects such as maths, science and engineering.
The report outlined problems regarding the environment and the attractiveness of the country for investment.
It warned that the energy infrastructure needed to be transformed.
The report stated that Ireland’s reliance on gas to generate electricity has exposed businesses to “wild swings” in costs and concerns over security of supply that “could have severe reputational consequences”.
It also found that investment in transport infrastructure is the second lowest in the EU and increases in both house prices and rents have eroded “real incomes and reduced living standards”.
In a preface to the report, it is noted that the council attempted to include Ireland’s performance in the quality and efficiency of our legal and planning systems, but it faced “persistent and significant data limitations”.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, Dr Frances Ruane – Chair of the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council – said Ireland is doing well overall.
Dr Ruane said this is the first scorecard since the pandemic and Ireland has comes out of it in “really good shape.”
She said a lot of the country’s success is to do with export and high tech sectors doing well during Covid as they continued to grow.
“There is a sense the Irish economy is stronger than one would have expected 18 months ago. And we are back now at full employment or close to full employment so the big job is filling jobs and filling vacancies,” she said.
Dr Ruane said the key issue for competitiveness longterm is productivity and acknowledged that housing is top of everyone’s agenda.
“You can’t get away from it because it seeps into everything. It affects standards of living, quality of life and filling crucial jobs where they are available,” she stated.
After the financial crash in 2008 and 2009 there was huge under -investment in infrastructure, she said, adding that the extent to which the population was growing did not really figure in to demand.
She believes that was the ” piece that was missed”.
She said it is not just about people arriving here and having children but realising too that people are living longer with the “demographic bulge” growing.