Sunday, 2 March 2014

2014 plan aims to build on major progress in jobs market over past two years

Particular focus on entrepreneurship as two thirds of all new jobs created by start-up businesses

The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation today (Thursday) published the Action Plan for Jobs 2014, the third annual instalment in the Government plan aimed at building a sustainable growing economy and creating jobs.

The Plan builds on the more than 500 measures already implemented through Action Plan for Jobs 2012 and 2013, and contains 385 actions to beimplemented 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.

The 2014 Plan aims to build on the significant progress which has occurred in job-creation since the first Action Plan was launched in February 2012, with more than 58,000 extra jobs added in the year to September 2013. According to Live Register figures, the unemployment rate has declined for
19 consecutive months, and has gone from 15.1% in February 2012 to 12.3% in January 2014.

Measures to be implemented during 2014 include:

1. Entrepreneurship - a county-based public competition to find the best entrepreneur in Ireland with €2million in funding for awards; an Entrepreneurial PhD programme to train SFI scientists to launch their own businesses; 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.

2. FDI - 10,000 additional jobs 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 5 years; IDA to focus on new areas of growth including the 'internet of things'.

3. Manufacturing - 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.

4. Agencies - IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the new Local Enterprise Offices will together support a total of 30,500 direct new jobs during 2014. Enterprise Ireland clients to target €17.5billion in exports in 2014.

5. Competitiveness - 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 6000 Momentum
places; reduced costs for businesses through rollout of the reformed Workplace Relations structures.

6. Access to Finance - new non-bank sources of lending to SMEs to add to the €2billion already available including new working capital products for
exporters and a retail mini bonds market via the Irish Stock Exchange; Dept of Finance will more closely monitor new bank lending to SMEs on a monthly basis.

7. Regions - Regional Enterprise Strategies, proposals for a successor to the National Spatial Strategy, an IDA programme of building advance facilities in specific locations where the private sector is not providing property solutions.

8. Sectors - new 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; new focus on domestically-traded sectors also including retail and construction.

9. Year of Irish Design 2015 - as part of a plan to target 1800 additional jobs in the design and crafts sector in the medium term, the Government today announced that 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.

10. Disruptive reforms - a total of 9 Disruptive Reforms (high-impact measures implemented to ambitious timelines in partnership with industry - further detail in Notes for Editors), further measures following on from 2013 plan in key areas of ICT skills, Big Data, delivering an integrated licensing system for retailers and the National Health Innovation Hub.

Launching the Plan, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said:

"Creating new jobs is the top priority for Government. 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."

The Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore TD said

"When this Government came to office, we were losing 7000 jobs a month - now we are gaining 5000 per month. We can afford at this stage to be far
more confident about our prospects than at any time since the crisis began.

It is now time to focus on the future, on finishing the job of economic recovery, of creating jobs, and of building a better post-crisis Ireland. As part of that, we need to focus on supporting the construction industry which has gone from being overblown during the boom to being completely undersized in its wake."

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said:

"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 over 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 1600 jobs per week we are now adding 1200 jobs per week.

"Through Action Plan 2014 we aim to build on this progress. We will focus on supporting more entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, who create two
thirds of all new jobs. And we will continue to grind out the change we need to improve our competitiveness and support more exports. In this way I
am confident that we can continue to systematically rebuild a sustainable growing economy and create the jobs we need".