Government wants 20,000 manufacturing jobs by 2016

Ministers unveil ambitious strategy to boost competitiveness in manufacturing sector


Government ministers today unveiled an ambitious plan to create 20,000 manufacturing jobs in three years as part of its so-called action plan for jobs.

The strategy, prepared by Forfás and the Government's expert group on future skills needs, involves the establishment of a new Enterprise Ireland start-up fund for fledgling manufacturing companies.

The plan also contains proposals to maintain or reduce costs related to energy, waste, regulation and tax which have been highlighted by SMEs as a considerable competitive barrier to trade.

Other measures include additional financial supports for R&D investment specifically targeted at engineering firms and a new "National Step Change Initiative" to support manufacturing companies expand their client base through staff training and peer learning.

The plan is to be implemented and monitored as part of the action plan for jobs process, driven by the Department of the Taoiseach.

Announcing the strategy, Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton said: "Despite a substantial decline over the past decade, manufacturing is a crucial sector employing over 200,000 people directly and a similar number indirectly.

"We in Government believe that the sector has substantial capacity for jobs growth, and that is why we decided two years ago to examine new ways of targeting support at manufacturing."

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said: "It is clear from the report we are publishing today that manufacturing remains a key employer in this country - but the needs of this sector like a lot of other sectors are evolving rapidly.

"In order to maximise opportunities for growth and attracting investment, we need to ensure our people are offered opportunities to upskill and reskill in order to have the relevant, quality skills needed to avail of current and future job opportunities in this sector."

Forfás chief executive Martin D. Shanahan said: "Today, the manufacturing sector in Ireland employs 205,700 people directly, and as many people again indirectly. We need a continued and concerted effort to address the barriers to growth in manufacturing. The employment outlook for the sector depends critically on addressing domestic competitiveness factors and a favourable international trading environment.

"Companies are operating in an intensely competitive global arena and although Ireland's cost competitiveness has improved over recent years, it is imperative that we continue to drive structural change and sustained improvements in our competitiveness."

Another plank of the startegy will involve a better targeting of training at skills shortages in the manufacturing sector through the implementation of the manufacturing skills study.