Taoiseach says unemployment ‘moving towards EU norm’

Enda Kenny tells jobs summit Middle Eastern investors are interested in Ireland

Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a press conference on the final quarterly review of the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 at the Government press centre earlier Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a press conference on the final quarterly review of the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 at the Government press centre earlier Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 12:25

Ronan McGreevy

The latest unemployment figures will show the jobless total moving towards the EU norm, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

The Central Statistics Office’s Quarterly National Household Survey tomorrow is likely to show a further drop in unemployment in the last quarter of the 2013.

The last survey for the third quarter of the year showed unemployment at 12.8 per cent. The EU average is 12.1 per cent.

Speaking at the launch of National Employment Week in the Convention Centre Dublin this morning, the Taoiseach said the cabinet would meet tomorrow to discuss growth in the construction sector.

Just 6,500 new houses are being built in the State when 30,000 are needed, he believed.

“How do you get good contractors to the point where they can develop sites? These things don’t work overnight. We need to get that sector moving.”

Mr Kenny said the aim was to get construction from 6 per cent of GDP to between 10 and 11 per cent.

“We don’t need any cowboys in here. This is a business that needs to acquire its integrity and trust. Some of our developers are really brilliant in terms of the buildings they provide and their innovative way of doing things. We have to move away from elements of the disaster that brought pyrite and Priory Hall and all of these things.”

Mr Kenny said the present Government was the “most open Government of the last 50 years for business”.

He anticipated that a further 50,000 net jobs will be created this year with a similar number the year afterwards, moving towards full employment by 2020.

Two thirds of the 58,000 jobs created last year were created by companies less than five years old, he said.

The Taoiseach said he anticipated two “serious” Middle Eastern investment authorities would be visiting Ireland at the end of next month with a view to investing.

National Employment Week is in its fourth year.

This year, the event also offers a series of employment leadership focus groups with various Ministers, including Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, to share thought leadership with regards to the Youth Guarantee Scheme.

Founder Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig said: “I am encouraged by economic progress and growth in employment over the last 12 months and sense we are entering a new sustainable phase of employment opportunity.

“With positive economic growth forecast and a renewed sense on confidence, the employment outlook seems to be broadly positive. The true social measure of economic success however is the number of people in employment and to that end we must remain committed.”