Government unveils new plan to create 300,000 jobs


Taoiseach Brian Cowen has announced a major new integrated plan for trade, tourism and investment in Dublin today that is aimed at generating up to 300,000 jobs.

The Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy strategy also intends to boost Irish exports by one third.

The plan will promote overseas trade, tourism and investment and be integrated across a range of Government departments.

It aims to create over 150,000 new jobs in manufacturing, tourism and internationally trading services directly, with another 150,000 generated through spin-offs.

Unveiling the plan, the Taoiseach said international trade, tourism and investment are 'crucial' to the creation and protection of jobs.

“This new integrated action plan will ensure a sharp focus across the entire Government system on opening new markets for Irish firms, creating many thousands of new jobs, repositioning Ireland in the international marketplace and bringing a new business focus to our diplomatic missions abroad," the Taoiseach said. "To recover from the current unprecedented economic crisis, we need new thinking about our country and her place in the world.”

He said the 21st century will see new powers of Brazil, Russia, India, China, in the Middle East and Africa emerging and Ireland must seize these opportunities.

The five-year plan hopes to increase the number of overseas visitors to the country to eight million and attract an extra 780 foreign investment projects through IDA Ireland. Agency-assisted indigenous exports totalled almost €13 billion last year, and the plan aims to increase this by €4 billion by 2015.

It will also see the establishment of a new Foreign Trade Council comprising all relevant departments and agencies to implement the plan.

The roles of the council will be to devise new common "brand Ireland" initiatives, exploit marketing platforms such as St Patrick’s Day and trade missions, open new markets for Irish enterprises, align visa policy with business interests and maximise the effectiveness of overseas diplomatic and agency representatives.

Mr Cowen talked about tapping into the “huge and willing resource” of the Irish diaspora and using the immigrant community within the country to help build up trade and investment abroad.

The Taoiseach was joined at the launch this morning by the Minister for Enterprise Batt O’Keeffe, Minister for Tourism Mary Hanafin, Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith and Minister for Trade and Commerce Billy Kelleher.

Mr O’Keeffe said the plan would strengthen Ireland’s trade links through a joined-up approach and by increasing the destination of indigenous exports into new high-growth target markets such as Brazil, China, India, Russia, Japan and the Gulf States.

In terms of tourism Ms Hanafin said the short term focus will be on growing numbers in markets such as the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. However, she added that the Asia Pacific region will present the fastest growing outbound markets over the next 15 years.

Mr Smith said the strategy will help agencies such as Bord Bia and Bord Iascaigh Mhara to expand their market share overseas.

Fine Gael dismissed the plan as a "repackaged jobs plan along with one more quango". The party's spokesman on communications and energy Leo Varadkar said it was "a PR joke that no unemployed person will be laughing at as it contains no funding, no new policies, no new programmes."

"Two months ago, the Government announced a revised National Development Plan which they claimed would create 270,000 jobs. Today, Brian Cowen and his colleagues announced a separate plan they said would create another 300,000 jobs."

"That's 570,000 new jobs over five years or 110,000 jobs a year. That works out at 2,000 new jobs a week every week or twice the number that were created at the height of the boom. What a farce," he concluded.

Labour spokesman on enterprise and innovation Willie Penrose said today’s announcement is “high on ambitious targets” and very short on specifics.

“If these initiatives represent a genuine re-focusing of government attention on the huge economic and social problem that unemployment represents, then that would be a welcome development.”

“Of course we need to exploit the potential that is there in terms of the smart economy…but have to have realistic strategies for the bread-and-butter sectors, like tourism, agri-business and small businesses that can and will provide employment across the regions.”