Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland workers hit by Troubles 'chill factor'

Unemployed fear taking jobs in some areas: report

A report commissioned by the Department for Employment and Learning on labour mobility in Northern Ireland found some unemployed people suffer from a ‘chill factor’ of Troubles
A report commissioned by the Department for Employment and Learning on labour mobility in Northern Ireland found some unemployed people suffer from a ‘chill factor’ of Troubles

By Jamie Stinson

Some unemployed people are still mentally scarred by the Troubles and feel inhibited from taking jobs in areas associated with a different religious background, according to a new report.

A report commissioned by the Department for Employment and Learning on labour mobility in Northern Ireland found some unemployed people suffer from a 'chill factor'.

While figures yesterday confirm that unemployment is continuing to fall in Northern Ireland, some regions suffer from persistently high rates of joblessness.

The report highlighted research by the Youth Council, which found the recession has made the problem worse, and during the recession there has been a rise in sectarianism.

According to the report by Oxford Economics, "some individuals are reluctant to travel through certain areas or work at a workplace dominated by individuals from a particular religious background due to a real or perceived threat of violence".

The report, published last month, highlighted that while only a small number of people felt this way, it was an issue among unemployed working-class men in Belfast.

It added that it became "more prevalent at politically charged times in the summer".

Those unemployed in west Belfast said "this was an issue of safety". "They felt that in those areas there is potential for individuals from the opposite religious background" to take exception to where they are from," the report added. Those interviewed said this "apprehension" was as a result of the Troubles.

The report quotes suggestions by the Institute for Conflict Research that a 'chill factor' is a real issue within Northern Ireland, particularly among young working-class men. It added the situation had improved, but "regressed over the last year due to flag protests".

Some employers in Belfast, such as Bombardier and the civil service, were considered "safe", meaning those affected by a 'chill factor' would overcome fears to accept a job, according to the findings.

It is not clear why this is the case, but the report offered two possible explanations.

These included, when "good salaries are available there is a greater motivation" to overcome any other concerns.

Another explanation was some employers "have been more successful in changing the working environment to make employees feel safe" than others.

The report also looked whether a 'chill issue' affected unemployed people in Strabane and Derry, but found this wasn't an issue.

The research showed between the years of 2008 and 2013, Northern Ireland lost 50,000 jobs.

In addition it also found only 6% of workers in Northern Ireland go to work by public transport, the lowest among UK regions.

The report said increased mobility in the labour market is a greater benefit the businesses here, as it allows "firms to draw from a larger pool of potential workers, helping them to fill vacancies more quickly, and find working with skills and experience that are more closely matched to their needs".

Belfast Telegraph

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