The next phase of the Irish Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is targeting up to 90,000 new jobs, including 40,000 manufacturing jobs, 10,000 new FDI jobs, and 30,500 indigenous export-focused jobs.
The initiative has been credited with creating 58,000 jobs last year.
The plan builds on the more than 500 measures already implemented through Action Plan for Jobs 2012 and 2013, and contains 385 actions to be implemented by all 16 Government departments and 46 agencies. Building on the 2013 plan, three new Disruptive Reform topics have been targeted in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Winning Overseas and Manufacturing.
“Creating new jobs is the top priority for Government,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny said.
“We recognise that too many people around the country still have yet to see evidence of recovery. This is why the Government has designated 2014 to be the year for jobs.
“Exiting the bailout was not an end in itself. We must use this freedom to create a sustainable economic recovery, to create more jobs and improve living standards. Just as we had a plan to exit the bail-out, we now have a clear plan to guide the economy to better times. This is where the Action Plan for Jobs comes in.
“The 2014 Action Plan has a strong focus on the domestic economy, improving competitiveness, and supporting our entrepreneurs and small businesses. There can be no let up in our efforts until we are back to full employment.”
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore pointed out: “When this Government came to office, we were losing 7,000 jobs a month – now we are gaining 5,000 per month. We can afford at this stage to be far more confident about our prospects than at any time since the crisis began.”
The third Action Plan for Jobs
Under the new plan, the Government proposes to launch a county-based public competition to find the best entrepreneur in Ireland, with €2m in funding for awards. Other entrepreneurial efforts include the creation of an Entrepreneurial PhD programme to train Science Foundation Ireland scientists to launch their own businesses, the setting up of 31 new Local Enterprise Offices to drive start-ups across the country, and a review of tax supports for entrepreneurs to see if they can be improved or simplified.
Some 10,000 additional foreign direct investment (FDI) jobs are to be created through recruitment of extra staff for IDA Ireland overseas, additional jobs over and above existing strategies to be created in multinational companies in Ireland within five years, and the IDA aims to focus on new areas of growth, including the internet of things.
IDA Ireland CEO Barry O’Leary summed up the value of having extra staff at the development agency. “Put simply, having 35 jobs for our global operations will enable us to get in front of more companies and convince them to locate their business in Ireland. These new hires will help us create an additional 10,000 new jobs – 6,000 direct and 4,000 indirect over five years.
“Our new team will be employed across a number of divisions, including emerging markets and a new division which will investigate ‘new forms’ of FDI, including oil and gas and marine services.”
40,000 new manufacturing jobs
As part of a plan to create 40,000 additional manufacturing jobs by 2020, a programme of new measures to support productivity improvements and higher levels of R&D in Irish and multinational manufacturing businesses, IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the new Local Enterprise Offices will together support 30,500 direct new jobs during 2014. Enterprise Ireland clients are to target €17.5bn in exports in 2014.
Ireland’s competitiveness has improved steadily since the Action Plan for Jobs process was first launched, going from 24th in the IMD world competitiveness rankings in 2011 to 20th in 2012 and 17th in 2013.
Measures to continue this drive include a new system of quarterly reporting to the Cabinet Committee on competitiveness issues and action on areas affecting business, measures on skills including 6,000 Momentum places, and reduced costs for businesses through roll out of the reformed Workplace Relations structures.
Access to finance
New non-bank sources of lending to SMEs to add to the €2bn already available include new working capital products for exporters and a retail mini bonds market via the Irish Stock Exchange.
The Department of Finance will more closely monitor new bank lending to SMEs on a monthly basis.
In terms of Regional Enterprise Strategies, the new plan includes proposals for a successor to the National Spatial Strategy and an IDA programme of building advance facilities in specific locations where the private sector is not providing property solutions.
The plan includes supports to deliver continued jobs growth in sectors such as agriculture/food, ICT and tourism, which have been supported in previous plans and have shown substantial growth in jobs.
It also includes a new focus on domestically traded sectors, also including retail and construction.
A total of nine Disruptive Reforms, described as high-impact measures implemented to ambitious timelines in partnership with industry are planned in key areas of ICT skills, big data, delivering an integrated licensing system for retailers, and the National Health Innovation Hub.
As part of a plan to target 1,800 additional jobs in the design and crafts sector in the medium term, the Government today announced it will designate 2015 the Year of Irish Design.
Planning will take place throughout 2014 for a national and international programme of activities to take place during 2015 in order to encourage more investment in design and to sustain and grow employment opportunities, sales and export potential in the design sector.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, TD, summed it up: “As we said two years ago when we published the first Action Plan for Jobs, there is no ‘big bang’ solution to the employment crisis – what we need is to systematically, brick-by-brick, build a sustainable growing economy which can create the jobs we need.
“Over the past two years, we have been grinding out the reforms we need, and have implemented more than 500 actions to improve our competitiveness, support Irish and multinational companies, and target sectors of potential. And we have seen the results – our competitiveness rankings are improving, our exports are growing, and we are now creating jobs faster than any other economy in the EU or the OECD.
“The plan is working. Many people are still not feeling the results, and we have a long way to go, but we are seeing real progress, and where previously we were shedding 1,600 jobs per week we are now adding 1,200 jobs per week,” Bruton said.