Minister Joan Burton launches MA Sociology in Work, Labour Markets and Employment

Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 00:00

The Irish unemployment rate is now receding from a high of 15% to the European average of below 12%. While this is good news, we know that over 60% of those on the dole are long term unemployed, and that there are over 100,000 people in Ireland who are underemployed. Across Europe youth unemployment rates are at an historic high. It is against this challenging backdrop that the Department of Sociology has developed an innovative M.A. programme focusing on the themes of Work, Labour Markets and Employment.  The M.A. was formally launched today by Minister for Social Protection, and candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party, Ms. Joan Burton.  The launch took place directly after a seminar addressed by international speakers on the role of social investment and the European project.
The Minister noted that this one year taught Masters - the first of its kind on the island - will provide a forum within which participants can critically engage with the most up-to-date analysis of the changing world of work, the forecasting of economic futures, the development of policy in the field of labour market activation and the reduction of unemployment.  The programme will be delivered by staff affiliated with the Maynooth University Political Economy and Work research cluster who have a national and international reputation for their work in work, labour market policy and comparative political economy.
According to Professor Sean O Riain, co-director of the programme and principal investigator on the New Deals for the New Economy projectthis taught programme will provide students with specialist skills and knowledge to enable critical engagement with the most up-to-date analysis of the changing worlds of work, labour markets and employment. Students will also be trained in research management and evaluation skills relevant to the graduate employment market.
National expert on labour market activation policy and social security specialist, Dr. Mary P. Murphy, who will co-direct the programme noted that the focus is both experiential and international.  “We will offer students internship opportunities, creative problem-solving approaches to dissertation work, and an international exchange with a sister institution in Valencia, Spain.  Our students will be able to draw on the expertise of leading academics with international reputations in the fields of political economy and labour market analysis”.
The M.A. is expected to attract people working in labour market policy and programmes; trade union officials; social entrepreneurs; people working in local and national government and in work activation and Local Employment Services as well as graduates considering doctoral studies in these fields. 
For more details on the Seminar on Social Investment or on the new MA, please contact the Department of Sociology, Maynooth University at 708-3659,  or 087-664-8751  or email: or check out