The National Competitiveness Council has made a series of recommendations to Government to help workers and employers cope with the ongoing impact of Covid-19.

It has also urged action to solve what it describes as "long-standing issues" that continue to damage the competitiveness of the economy.

It said the unpredictable course of Covid-19 means it is hard to gauge how it will change the economy in the near future.

Dr Frances Ruane, Chairperson of the National Competitiveness Council, said the biggest impact of the pandemic is unemployment which differs across sectors. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Ruane said: "We want to make sure we don't get into a situation where people are left in long-term unemployment.

"We need to make sure people get back into work in a very systematic way over the coming period. Unlike previous recessions we didn't have policies or structures available to do that," she said.

"We do now have a whole series of structures to help people get back into workforce but we need to make sure they are fit for purpose in the face of the pandemic," she added.

The National Competitiveness Council believes it will mean remote working will play a bigger role in the future of work.

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The National Competitiveness Council believes it will mean remote working will play a bigger role in the future of work.

That means that Government must ensure broadband is delivered around the country and that workers and businesses are equipped with the necessary digital skills.

However, Dr Ruane is wary about encouraging working remotely fulltime.

"The point I think we need to see is this is about a potential rebalancing. We want to rebalance it in a way that's good for the productivity of the companies and is good for the people being employed.

"Working at a distance is very successful for many people but not the best thing to be done on a full time basis," she added.

Dr Ruane said a mixed mode of working could be a "gamechanger" for significant parts of the economy.

The Council also marked out adapting to climate change as a key challenge for businesses.

It recommended that the Government should establish a "one-stop shop" environmental hub and website for companies to measure their carbon footprint, to access information, and supports.

It also identified what it termed the "long-standing issues" that continue to hamper the competitiveness of the economy and urges specific actions to tackle the high cost of financing, insurance, housing and childcare