Employers to be paid to take on workers
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton at the announcement of the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 yesterday.
The Government has unveiled plans to subsidise employers to recruit long-term unemployed people to fill vacancies.
The initiative is part of an updated jobs plan which aims to stimulate private sector employment.
Key measures in the plan include a drive to increase the number of information technology graduates and to encourage 2,000 small firms to carry out more business online.
Further measures are designed to make Ireland one of Europe’s biggest locations for “big data”, which is the commercial harnessing of electronic data collected by companies and governments.
While the Government has cast these initiatives and others as “disruptive reforms” designed to make big inroads into the unemployment problem, it declined to set out a specific job-creation target for the new plan.
Private sector jobs
The exercise updates the jobs plan produced last year, which the Government believes to have been instrumental in the creation of 12,000 new private sector jobs.
The subsidy initiative – called JobsPlus – will see the State pay €1 of every €4 it costs the employer to recruit a worker off the live register, with the money payable monthly in arrears for two years.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny told a news briefing that the new scheme aimed to help people who were out of work for more than one year, with a particular emphasis on those out of work for two years.
“We don’t want them in a rut where it’s very difficult to have the motivation to get out of that,” Mr Kenny said.
Some €7,500 will be available to pay people unemployed more than one year and €10,000 will be available to pay people unemployed more than two years.
Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton said the subsidy was designed to be simpler to access than existing schemes which supported employment via PRSI and tax relief, which were being scrapped to make way for the new plan.
He suggested that up to 4,800 new jobs might be supported in this way, four times as many as under the present initiatives.
“The last schemes took only about 1,200. We would like to treble or quadruple that over time, but obviously this will be tested,” Mr Bruton said.
Responding to the initiative, ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise lobby group, said it was pleased to see that its calls for straightforward subsidies for new jobs had been taken on board.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told the event that job creation was the Government’s top priority. “We still have far too many people out of work; 14.6 per cent unemployment is unacceptably high and the rate of youth unemployment in particular is just not acceptable,” he said.
Energy efficiency fund
Other elements of the plan include a €70 million energy efficiency fund and the development of a single licensing system for as many as 25 licences in the retail sector.
Another initiative aims to foster health innovation in Irish companies by encouraging collaboration between the health system and industry.
IDA Ireland, the inward investment agency, is targeting more than 130 new projects under the new plan, the aim being to secure €500 million in new research and development investment and to create some 13,000 new jobs.
Enterprise Ireland, the agency which supports indigenous companies, is to provide financial support to 155 “high potential” and early-stage start-up businesses.
A further element of the new plan is to secure an additional €500 million in new contracts with multinationals which are based in Ireland for indigenous Irish firms.
Business lobby Ibec said the Government should follow up the plan with a commitment to ease proposed tax increases on households and businesses.
“It is also crucial that there is no increase in the cost of employment and nothing is done to undermine the flexibility of the Irish labour market or the industrial relations environment,” said Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy.
Disrupt Seven Government targets to boost job creation
1 JobsPlus: a subsidy scheme to take long-term unemployed people off the live register
2 Information technology: an additional 2,000 graduate-level professionals this year
3 Energy efficiency : a €70 million emergency efficiency fund
4 Trading online: to encourage 2,000 more small companies to carry out business online
5 Business licences: a single application system for up to 25 licences for retailers
6 Big Data: to encourage Irish participation in this expanding sector
7 Health Innovation Hub: aiming to establish a “world- renowned centre” for health technology