CPA calls for ‘National Entrepreneurship Strategy’

13 Feb 2012

Gail McEvoy, president, Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland

In light of the Action Plan for Jobs 2012 revealed today by the Irish Government, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA) is calling for what it’s terming an ‘integrated entrepreneurship strategy’ to support the jobs drive, especially taking Ireland’s young population into account, and to help get Ireland back on the right economic trajectory.

Richard Bruton TD, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, announced the Government’s job action plan earlier today. The strategy includes 70 actions to be implemented in 2012 to improve supports for job-creating businesses.
This plan is the first instalment of a multi-year process. And the ultimate aim? To increase the number of people at work in Ireland by 100,000 by 2016, as well as making Ireland ‘the best small country in the world in which to do business’, according to the Government.

 In response to today’s Action Plan announcement CPA president Gail McEvoy said that it was “important to recognise that Government cannot create jobs”.

“ … Government can only ever create an environment in which individuals have the confidence and the support necessary to commercialise ideas and start new businesses. Measures announced today will go some way towards that but we would welcome a formalised plan to encourage our young people to be the job creators of the future,” explained McEvoy.

Ireland’s young population and enterpreneurship

She touched on how 41pc of Ireland’s population is under the age of 25. “What I don’t see clearly addressed in this strategy is how the Government plans to position entrepreneurship as a viable career path for young people. Today’s announcement is great progress, and the cross-departmental co-operation is to be applauded, however I would like to see it go one step further.

“I am calling for a working a party, led by Minister Bruton’s Department to develop a National Entrepreneurship Strategy, which would align social, enterprise, industrial, taxation and educational policy in order to create and sustain an environment and culture which would be conducive to entrepreneurship,” she explained.

Dissolving CEBs

McEvoy did welcome the Government’s measure to dissolve County and City Enterprise Boards and instead create a new Micro-Enterprise and Small Business Unit in Enterprise Ireland.

“One of the recommendations in the CPA Entrepreneur Report 2010 was to examine the use of the City and County Enterprise Board network as the high street presence for a national enterprise support one-stop-shop up to and including absorption into Enterprise Ireland. I welcome moves announced today regarding the development of more streamlined support for business. I also welcome the broadening of Enterprise Ireland remit to support all individuals engaged in job creation activity and not only those engaged in manufacturing or exported enterprises,” she said.

Micro-finance loan fund

Today’s Action Plan also includes reference to a micro-finance loan fund of €100m over 10 years for start-ups and small businesses. The plan also includes a temporary partial loan guarantee scheme for businesses turned down for loans from their bank.

“These measures will prove to be a lifeline to many viable small businesses around the country, but only if administered in a timely and comprehensive fashion. Lack of credit is impacting cash flow, growth opportunities and ultimately jobs. Funds need to be allocated as a matter of urgency,” said McEvoy.

Ireland’s Action Plan for Jobs

The Government revealed today that:

  • Business leaders, multinationals and large Irish companies will carry out increased mentoring of SMEs.
  • In terms of Ireland’s vast diaspora around the world, direct incentives will be provided to them to create jobs in Ireland.
  • A Research Prioritisation Plan will be implemented to enact new laws aimed at the State’s €500m annual research budget. The aim is to achieve more applied research, which has potential for commercialisation and job creation.

Key sectors

The Government is also targeting key sectors it sees as fuelling job creation and economic growth. Take cloud computing. There will be Cloud Computing Strategy for the Public Service and a research centre in cloud computing.

In terms of Ireland’s digital games sector, the Government is set up a cluster development team around this industry. The Government is also establishing other industry clusters for targeted sectors. For example, it will be setting up a Manufacturing Development Forum.

Health tech is also a focus area. The Government will be pioneering a Health Innovation Hub to drive collaboration between the heath system and the life-sciences industry.

“The ultimate goal and top priority of Government has always been to get Ireland back to work,” said Taoiseach Enda Kenny today.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic