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SDG9 - Industry Innovation and Infrastructure

The Privatisation and PPPs (P4) Research Group was established in 2003 as a multi-disciplinary research group at University of Limerick. The group is composed of academic experts in disciplines such as economics, finance, public management, and industrial relations. Those scholars are actively engaged in research into various dynamic policy issues across infrastructure sectors, including privatisation, de-regulation, market liberalisation, and public private partnerships (PPPs). Policy issues include the economic and social effects of such policies (including impacts on workers, consumers, investors, and communities); their corporate governance aspects; management of the alternative processes, legal dimensions, and governance aspects (including the accountability of decision makers to citizens and organisations in different national and international settings). The stated mission of P4 is to collaborate with partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors for the purpose of developing research and disseminating knowledge around change in the infrastructure sectors that are core to sustainable economic development and the well-being of society. On the 19th June 2019, Dr Donal Palcic and Professor Eoin Reeves gave a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the procurement process for the National Broadband Plan (NBP).

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June 2019, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Mr. Pat Breen T.D. launched a key report on, ‘The Future of Work Now: The Digital Transformation of Customer Service and the Emergence of Ireland’s Cx Professional', This research study was undertaken by Irish Centre for Business Excellence’s Advanced Productivity Skillnet in partnership with Kemmy Business School at University of Limerick.

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UL Enactus were runners up in the Enactus Ireland National Competition in May 2019 receiving positive endorsement of the empowerment of their three social enterprise projects. They increased membership to 160 students who dedicated 6000 hours to volunteering and working with social enterprises and established 12 new social enterprise and corporate partnerships. They established a strong media presence achieving 362,000+ Social Media impressions, being interviewed on RTÉ 2fm, featured articles in the Irish Examiner, Farmers Journal, Agri land, Limerick Leader, and the Limerick Post. UL Enactus generated impact through three social enterprises as follows:

  1. SparkED – ‘Sparking the Light for a Brighter Future’ is a youth leadership development programme that empowers secondary school pupils with leadership, communication, and personal development skills through a series of workshops and volunteering activities. The Transition Year students were empowered to put the skills they have learned into volunteering with organisations such as Limericks Gateway to Education, Claire’s Wish and Limerick Animal Welfare. Several transition year students also gained work experience opportunities in UBER and UL Law Department.
  2. ReStart project aims to integrate refugees and asylum seekers into the Irish community through various initiatives such as cooking and selling food products and gardening. Asylum seekers in conjunction with Enactus students developed a range of traditional dishes from countries spanning Zimbabwe to India and sold those at a weekly food stall at the UL Market and they secured one commercial contract. The Enactus members delivered several workshops on developing business skills in customer care, pricing, budgeting, and marketing which were applied by individuals selling food weekly in the UL Market.
  3. Moya Nua has designed handheld seed planters for smallholder farmers in Malawi reducing labour intensity for farmers, increasing productivity, and reducing costs. Complementing the range of products, the team has created an e-learning platform to teach Malawian students practical business skills in social media, business management and bookkeeping.

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Over the last few decades academic research has often neglected issues of power and influence concerning labour market institutions, employment regulation, models of collaborative partnership between workers, unions and employers, and systems for inclusion and wider stakeholder voice. Through a body of research involving international collaborators, Professor Tony Dundon has provided evidence on new processes and forms of worker voice and social dialogue that can enhance decent work goals, expose labour market inequalities, and support collaborative employment partnerships. The research was undertaken with policymakers, consultancies, employers, employer associations, trade unions, HR managers, workers, and shop steward and non-union employee representatives.

Impact

Firstly, has impacted employee voice mechanisms at workplace levels. Second, it has impacted employee information and consultation policy, including European Directive transposition issues at national and organisational levels. Third, it has impacted labour market reforms for enhanced collective bargaining and work futures. Finally, it has impacted policies on accessing apprenticeship skills and learning in Ireland. In terms of people and organisations: workers, trainees/apprentices, trade unions, multinational. The research contributes new insights concerning corporate behaviours and how employer groups function as dominant actors with ‘power over’ others in the labour market corporations, labour market agencies. In terms of mechanisms and practices: policy on employee engagement, equality and diversity, voice channels, and collective bargaining.

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