'Serious progress' on jobs


The Government said today it has delivered all but five of 77 measures in its jobs action plan it promised to by the end of June.

The action plan, announced last January, has promised to create 100,000 net jobs by 2016 by taking action on hundreds of measures. It is the main Government jobs initiative. and Taoiseach Enda Kenny has given an undertaking that it will report each quarter on which targets have been met.

He hopes that the numbers employed in Ireland will rise to 1.9 million by 2016 as a result of the initiative and to 2 million by 2020.

In all, some 270 measures have been promised for 2012. The Government missed three in the first quarter of the year but reported this afternoon that they have now been completed.

A number of major initiatives have begun in the second quarter, including a €2 million pilot programme to foster collaboration between businesses; the passage of the Credit Guarantee Bill through all stages in the Oireachtas; and the development of a new cloud computing procurement standard.

However, some of the five targets that were not reached were major ones. One was a promised proposal for Government from Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan on a new national waste policy.

The other, from Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte, was a plan for advanced broadband targets in Ireland. Mr Kenny said today both those proposals would probably be brought to Cabinet next week with full implementation in the early autumn.

Other proposals that were not completed included the programme to re-evaluate commercial premises (to adjust the burden of commercial rates on businesses). The Taoiseach said he hoped this would also be presented to Cabinet next week.

There was also a plan to establish a microfinance fund facility to avail of funding from the European Investment Fund that has not happened yet.

“You can can also express dissatisfaction that targets for quarter two have not been met in full,” said the Taoiseach, but he said there were legitimate reasons, allied to complex solutions, for all the delays.

“The action plan shows serious progress. The effect of that and the knowledge of that - that’s really important,” said Mr Kenny.

He cited 15 major multinational projects, new employment provided by 200 companies, 330 employers availing of PRSI incentives and some 30,000 unique visitors to the Connect in Ireland website. The website is for an initiative that encourages companies outside Europe to invest in Ireland. There is a finder’s fee for those who facilitate that investment in Ireland.

He said a company has set up in Carlow creating 30 new jobs and that plans for up to 100 other companies to come to Ireland were in the pipeline.

“The scale of this is daunting. We are in the early years of a multiple year process . . . we are not in any way complacent about this. This is another piece of the jigsaw.

Mr Gilmore said people had suffered a lot from the failures of the Government’s immediate predecessors. “We know the job of government is to create circumstances. [This plan’s purpose] was to identify the various things the government will do. We decided to do this on a quarterly basis.

Mr Bruton said a single day recently encapsulated the change in context. He said that on that day 100 jobs in National Irish Bank were being lost while on the same day, the social networking company salesforce.com announced it was creating 100 jobs.

“We are leaving an old economy to create the new economy,” he said. The Taoiseach also highlighted recent figures from the Industrial Development Agency that showed the creation of 5,000 net foreign direct investment jobs, and statistics from Enterprise Ireland that showed stabilisation and recent growth in its jobs figures.