Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen said “Small businesses are the backbone of the Irish economy and are making a huge contribution to the recovery in every region of the country. As Minister of State for Employment and Small Business I want to make sure that we are doing all that we can to support them by cutting red tape, reducing costs, providing low cost finance and providing easier access to public procurement opportunities.”
The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Action Plan for Jobs 2017 at the offices of NDRC, this morning.
The Action Plan for Jobs was introduced in 2012 as a key instrument of Government to support job creation. New plans are published annually, setting out clear actions and targets to help create positive conditions for job creation.
The Whole-of-Government initiative sees all Government Departments and Agencies work together to deliver on agreed action points each year.
The target is to support the creation of 200,000 net additional jobs by 2020. There are nearly 190,000 more people employed now compared to when the first Action Plan was launched in 2012, surpassing the original target of an additional 100,000 jobs by 2016.
According to CSO figures announced on Tuesday, the monthly unemployment figure for January 2017 is down to 7.1% from 8.5% in January 2016, the lowest since 2008. Employment is up by an average 10.6% across the country and over 2 million people are now at work.
A significant consideration in drawing up the Action Plan for 2017 was Brexit and the changing global trading environment. This year’s plan is at the core of the government’s response to the huge challenge these pose for businesses - to make sure our enterprise base is resilient in the face of changes to come.
The APJ 2017 is the first opportunity to set out a Whole of Government response to the volatility in the international trading environment.
The Action Plan sets out the Government’s response to Brexit.
Stating that the Government is steadfast in its commitment to the EU Minister Breen added, “We will be prepared for whatever new trading relationship the UK has with the EU and Ireland. Already immediate steps are being taken to address the impact some firms are already experiencing as a result of Brexit.”
“These include €3 million extra for Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland to recruit an additional 39 and 9 staff respectively to be deployed at home and in overseas offices to grow our exports and attract investment, an increased number of trade missions to drive export diversification, along with the specific measures in Budget 2017 to help enterprise prepare for the immediate future,” said the Clare Fine Gael minister of state.
Science Foundation Ireland is also dedicating resources to developing Ireland as an attractive location for mobile, globally renowned researchers, including UK based researchers. The Government will address the short to medium term competitiveness challenges, diversify our trade footprint and build our presence in key markets and sectors. It is also developing a new trade strategy to embed exports in the UK, grow share in Europe and North America and in new and emerging markets.
In addition to Brexit, there are specific actions on:
• · An Export Finance Initiative, working with the Department of Finance/SBCI to roll out new support to export orientated SMEs, with a pilot in 2017 · Innovation 2020 – targets include €600 million in new RDI investment by FDI enterprises. EI to support 100 significant RDI projects and support for 850 enterprise-led collaborative projects
· Workplace Innovation, with a toolkit to be launched for employers and employees to engage in workplace innovation and a pilot programme roll-out
· Retail Support Programme with training developed to support retailers to scale up their online trading activity and expand into international markets
· Launch of a Design4Growth initiative in regions
· Launch of a competitive Start Fund for female entrepreneurs
· Development of a whole of Government approach to realise opportunities in the digital economy across all sectors, including a stakeholder summit in Q1
· A combination of measures to support senior entrepreneurship, get women back to work and for long term unemployed
· A ‘Think Small First’ SME test for new regulations to reduce red tape.
Speaking at today’s launch, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny said: “The Action Plan for Jobs 2017 sets out the Government’s response to the challenges of an uncertain external environment by ensuring that our economy remains sustainable, competitive and resilient. We will focus on getting the basics right including improving our competitiveness performance, ensuring our skills pipeline is aligned to labour market needs, driving innovation and promoting entrepreneurship and ensuring finance is available at competitive cost to support and underpin growth. We need to build our trading resilience and we will help our ambitious enterprises diversify their markets, with a significant increase in Ministerial-led trade missions in 2017. We will remain vigilant to external changes with potentially significant implications for our economic well-being, and we will be agile in anticipating and responding to them”.
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “This year’s Action Plan has never been more important, with Brexit and other challenges in our external trading environment. We remain committed to transforming the economy to one based on innovation and export-led growth and the Action Plan for Jobs 2017 sets short and medium terms responses to the volatility in the wider trading and investment environment. I am convinced that the effective delivery of the Action Plan can support the creation by business in all sectors and regions of an additional 45,000 jobs in 2017, towards our target of achieving full employment and an extra 200,000 at work by 2020. The Action Plans for Jobs have proved hugely successful and the whole-of-Government approach adopted has supported the creation of an average 40,000 jobs each year since the Plan was introduced.”
Minister of State for Training, Skills & Innovation, John Halligan said: “Action Plan for Jobs 2017 reaffirms the important role that talent and innovation play in job creation, even more so now in the context of Brexit. As Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation I will be working to achieve our ambition of becoming a Global Innovation Leader as set out in Innovation 2020 and ensure we are renowned internationally for our world class people and ideas”