Self-employment is an area of “untapped opportunity” in Ireland and needs encouragement and support. That’s according to Niall Byrne of Niall Byrne & Co, who has just been elected president of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA).
Byrne said that with Ireland’s 14pc unemployment rate, self-employment was an "untapped area of opportunity".
He said micro-enterprises that employ between one and three people are generating wealth and reducing numbers on the live register.
"We need to create an environment in which micro-businesses are encouraged and supported," argued Byrne.
He said self-employment needs to be given more recognition.
"We have to recognise and celebrate self-employment and its potential for job creation in the same manner that we applaud foreign direct investment, for example," he said.
"Small businesses employ some 700,000 workers in this country out of a total workforce of 1.9m," he added.
Byrne said that advocating and supporting Ireland’s entrepreneurs would be central to his year as president of the CPA.
"We need to address the major inhibitors to entrepreneurship – funding the initial investment and the consequences of failure."
He also cited the Government’s Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme as one that needs amending.
"To become eligible, one of the conditions is that a person must be in receipt of a social welfare payment for at least 12 months. This is prohibitive in that it excludes recently unemployed people from proceeding with creating their own employment and requires them to wait until at least a year before availing of the scheme," he said.
According to Byrne, the scheme needs to be reviewed, and amalgamated with the Short Term Enterprise Allowance scheme.
‘Employment law is prohibitive’ – Byrne
He also called for a review of current employment laws, which, he said, make it difficult to provide jobs.
"For a country trying to foster employment, the employment law here in Ireland is prohibitive. The structures, the laws, the terms are outdated and are impacting on our competitiveness," said Byrne.