Government publishes third annual Action Plan for Jobs

27 February 2014

2014 plan aims to build on major progress in jobs market over past two years

Particular focus on entrepreneurship as two thirds of all new jobs created by start-up businesses

The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation today (Thursday) published the Action Plan for Jobs 2014, the third annual instalment in the Government plan aimed at building a sustainable growing economy and creating jobs.

The Plan builds on the more than 500 measures already implemented through Action Plan for Jobs 2012 and 2013, and contains 385 actions to beimplemented by all 16 Government Departments and 46 Agencies. Building on the 2013 Plan three new Disruptive Reform topics have been targeted in the
areas of Entrepreneurship, Winning Overseas and Manufacturing.

The 2014 Plan aims to build on the significant progress which has occurred in job-creation since the first Action Plan was launched in February 2012, with more than 58,000 extra jobs added in the year to September 2013. According to Live Register figures, the unemployment rate has declined for
19 consecutive months, and has gone from 15.1% in February 2012 to 12.3% in January 2014.

Measures to be implemented during 2014 include:

1. Entrepreneurship - a county-based public competition to find the best entrepreneur in Ireland with €2million in funding for awards; an Entrepreneurial PhD programme to train SFI scientists to launch their own businesses; 31 new Local Enterprise Offices to drive start-ups across the country and a review of tax supports for entrepreneurs to see if they can be improved or simplified.

2. FDI - 10,000 additional jobs to be created through recruitment of extra staff for IDA Ireland overseas, additional jobs over and above existing strategies to be created in multinational companies in Ireland within 5 years; IDA to focus on new areas of growth including the 'internet of things'.

3. Manufacturing - as part of a plan to create 40,000 additional manufacturing jobs by 2020, a programme of new measures to support productivity improvements and higher levels of R&D in Irish and multinational manufacturing businesses.

4. Agencies - IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the new Local Enterprise Offices will together support a total of 30,500 direct new jobs during 2014. Enterprise Ireland clients to target €17.5billion in exports in 2014.

5. Competitiveness - Ireland's competitiveness has improved steadily since the Action Plan for Jobs process was first launched, going from 24th in the
IMD world competitiveness rankings in 2011 to 20th in 2012 and 17th in 2013 - measures to continue this drive include a new system of quarterly
reporting to the Cabinet Committee on competitiveness issues and action on areas affecting business; measures on skills including 6000 Momentum
places; reduced costs for businesses through rollout of the reformed Workplace Relations structures.

6. Access to Finance - new non-bank sources of lending to SMEs to add to the €2billion already available including new working capital products for
exporters and a retail mini bonds market via the Irish Stock Exchange; Dept of Finance will more closely monitor new bank lending to SMEs on a monthly basis.

7. Regions - Regional Enterprise Strategies, proposals for a successor to the National Spatial Strategy, an IDA programme of building advance facilities in specific locations where the private sector is not providing property solutions.

8. Sectors - new supports to deliver continued jobs growth in sectors such as Agriculture/Food, ICT and Tourism which have been supported in previous
Plans and have shown substantial growth in jobs; new focus on domestically-traded sectors also including retail and construction.

9. Year of Irish Design 2015 - as part of a plan to target 1800 additional jobs in the design and crafts sector in the medium term, the Government today announced that it will designate 2015 the Year of Irish Design. Planning will take place throughout 2014 for a national and international programme of activities to take place during 2015 in order to encourage more investment in design and to sustain and grow employment opportunities, sales and export potential in the design sector.

10. Disruptive reforms - a total of 9 Disruptive Reforms (high-impact measures implemented to ambitious timelines in partnership with industry - further detail in Notes for Editors), further measures following on from 2013 plan in key areas of ICT skills, Big Data, delivering an integrated licensing system for retailers and the National Health Innovation Hub.

Launching the Plan, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said:

"Creating new jobs is the top priority for Government. We recognise that too many people around the country still have yet to see evidence of recovery. This is why the Government has designated 2014 to be the year for jobs. Exiting the bailout was not an end in itself. We must use this freedom to create a sustainable economic recovery, to create more jobs and improve living standards. Just as we had a plan to exit the bail-out, we now have a clear plan to guide the economy to better times. This is where the Action Plan for Jobs comes in. The 2014 Action Plan has a strong focus on the domestic economy, improving competitiveness, and supporting our entrepreneurs and small businesses. There can be no let up in our efforts until we are back to full employment."

The Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore TD said

"When this Government came to office, we were losing 7000 jobs a month - now we are gaining 5000 per month. We can afford at this stage to be far
more confident about our prospects than at any time since the crisis began.

It is now time to focus on the future, on finishing the job of economic recovery, of creating jobs, and of building a better post-crisis Ireland. As part of that, we need to focus on supporting the construction industry which has gone from being overblown during the boom to being completely undersized in its wake."

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said:

"As we said two years ago when we published the first Action Plan for Jobs, there is no 'big bang' solution to the employment crisis - what we need is to systematically, brick-by-brick, build a sustainable growing economy which can create the jobs we need. Over the past two years we have been grinding out the reforms we need, and have implemented over 500 actions to improve our competitiveness, support Irish and multinational companies, and target sectors of potential. And we have seen the results - our competitiveness rankings are improving, our exports are growing, and we are now creating jobs faster than any other economy in the EU or the OECD.

"The plan is working. Many people are still not feeling the results, and we have a long way to go, but we are seeing real progress, and where previously we were shedding 1600 jobs per week we are now adding 1200 jobs per week.

"Through Action Plan 2014 we aim to build on this progress. We will focus on supporting more entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, who create two
thirds of all new jobs. And we will continue to grind out the change we need to improve our competitiveness and support more exports. In this way I
am confident that we can continue to systematically rebuild a sustainable growing economy and create the jobs we need".

Ends

For further information contact:

Conor Quinn, Press Advisor to Minister Bruton - Ph: 087 3743783
Press Office, Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation - Ph: 01-6312200;
e-mail: press.office@djei.ie


Notes for Editors

Reflecting the focus on entrepreneurship and start-up businesses contained in the plan, today's event took place in Wayra Ireland, one of a global network of startup accelerators, based in O2's headquarters in Dublin's Silicon Dock.

 

Links to Action Plan for Jobs:

APJ 2014: www.djei.ie/publications/2014APJ.pdf
Table of Actions: www.djei.ie/publications/2014APJ_Table_of_Actions.pdf

 

Action Plan for Jobs annual process

The Action Plan for Jobs is a whole of Government, multi-annual initiative which mobilises all Government Departments to work towards the objective of
supporting job creation. The development of the Plan is coordinated by Forfás on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and is monitored on a quarterly basis to ensure delivery. The process has delivered and in 2012, 92 per cent of actions were delivered and in 2013 90
per cent were delivered.

In a departure from the 2012 plan, Action Plan for Jobs 2013 contained seven headline 'Disruptive Reform' measures - these are high-impact measures with highly ambitious deadlines, implemented in partnership with senior industry partners and selected because of their potential to have a significant effect on job creation. This year's plan adds three new disruptive reforms on entrepreneurship, winning abroad and manufacturing, and also continues implementation on 6 of the 7 measures from the 2013 plan, to make a total of 9 Disruptive Reforms in the 2014 plan (see below).

More importantly, however, the Action Plan is having an impact on the ground and recent data on employment is encouraging. There were 1,899,300
people in work in Q3 2013, an increase of 58,000 compared to Q3 2012. The Quarterly National Household Survey (CSO, 2013) showed that the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell to 12.8 per cent in Q3 2013 from a peak of 15.1 per cent in Q1 2012. More recent Live Register trends suggest the fall has been even greater in the interim. The long-term unemployment rate decreased from 8.9 per cent to 7.6 per cent over the year to Q3 2013. In addition to the increase in employment and the decrease in unemployment, there are other indicators that the Irish economy is emerging from the deepest economic crisis in our history. Domestic demand in 2013 is estimated to have grown by 0.4 per cent, the first increase in this aggregate since the crisis began. Ireland's competitiveness rankings are also once again improving - for example, Ireland's ranking in the IMD's World Competitiveness Yearbook has improved from 24th in 2011 to 20th in 2012 and 17th in 2013.


Competitiveness

Ireland can never again become complacent about its competitive position. If we are to meet the employment targets contained in this Plan, Ireland
must maintain the hard-won ground over the past number of years and pursue relentlessly policies which will drive competitiveness in all areas of the
economy. Many firms are still confronted by high costs which make it difficult to compete internationally. Others are dealing with legacy issues that make accessing funding for investment extremely challenging. Still others lack the capabilities (e.g. innovative capacity, language and international sales skills, technical competencies, etc.) to take advantage of growth opportunities. Creating a competitive business environment which supports an increase in exports from these firms is essential to ensuring Ireland achieves sustainable economic growth and high levels of employment growth.

In 2014, led by the Taoiseach, the Government will focus on competitiveness in all areas of economic activity. The Government will develop and target actions specifically at improving our competitiveness rankings. This is aimed at achieving a top-five international competitiveness ranking, making Ireland the best small country in which to do business and creating the jobs we need.


Disruptive Reforms

Disruptive Reforms were introduced in 2013 as new, high impact, cross-cutting measures with the potential to have a significant impact on job creation, to support enterprises and/or be areas where Ireland could profit from a natural advantage or opportunity that presents itself in the economy. 6 of the 7 Disruptive Reforms introduced in 2013 will be progressed further in 2014 in order to realise their ambition. The JobsPlus initiative, launched in 2013, has already been mainstreamed and has proven to be particularly impactful. Three new Disruptive Reforms will be introduced in 2014: Entrepreneurship; Winning Abroad; and Manufacturing:


Entrepreneurship

The Government's ambition is for Ireland to be among the most entrepreneurial nations in the world and acknowledged as a world-class environment in which to start and grow a business. With the unemployment challenge that Ireland is currently facing, growing the number of entrepreneurs and start-ups is hugely important for Ireland's economic development.

In 2014, the Government will:

§ Roll out 31 Local Enterprise Offices, supported by a Centre of Excellence in Enterprise Ireland, to drive entrepreneurial activity
throughout the country;

§ Make additional funding available to support start-ups and expansions including a new Youth Entrepreneurship Fund;

§ Review tax based support schemes for entrepreneurs with a view to providing a simplified offering targeted at increasing entrepreneurship;

§ Facilitate mentoring, peer learning and knowledge sharing to develop entrepreneurial capacity;

§ Target actions, including new funds, to inspire and encourage untapped potential among groups including youth and graduate entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs, immigrant entrepreneurs and at regional level; and

§ Deliver a clear strategy with medium term actions for entrepreneurship through a National Entrepreneurship Policy Statement.

 

Winning Abroad

Generating sustainable broad based export-led growth is essential to rebuilding our economy. As a small open economy growth in overseas markets
is critical and this Disruptive Reform will place a specific emphasis on growing opportunities in overseas markets, particularly in new and fast growing markets.

In 2014, the Government will:

§ Target the creation of an additional 10,000 new jobs (6000 direct and 4000 indirect) over 5 years through an investment programme which will see the provision of additional resources to IDA Ireland to be deployed overseas including in emerging markets, intensifying FDI employment growth;

§ Increase support for companies seeking to trade internationally, through the provision of additional on-the-ground support by Enterprise Ireland in overseas markets including China, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and South Africa. This will also include targeting 650 companies to have significant engagement with the Enterprise Ireland potential exporters division, working with 55 first time exporters and providing a range of programmes to exporters in 2014;

§ Develop the capabilities of Irish enterprises to grow exports through programmes aimed at both existing exporters and potential exporters;

§ Promote Ireland's image abroad to drive increased trade, tourism and investment and implement Local Market Plans in priority markets; and

§ Undertake targeted initiatives in sectors including international education services, engineering services and cultural services and design.

 

Manufacturing: National Step Change

Supporting cost competitiveness in the longer term together with improving living standards for all can be achieved through productivity growth. This
Disruptive Reform in manufacturing will help place Ireland's manufacturing sector to the forefront internationally and improve competitiveness,
productivity and innovation.

In 2014, the Government will:

§ Support 130 indigenous companies with an initiative to improve their productivity as part of the National Step Change for Manufacturing;

§ Deliver a transformation programme across 70 foreign-owned manufacturing and services companies in Ireland to achieve technology uplift, skills enhancement, energy improvements and investment in new facilities and equipment;

§ Support the adoption of LEAN manufacturing and other productivity enhancing measures across a wide range of enterprises including relevant micro-enterprises;

§ Ensure that publicly-funded R&D is oriented to the needs of manufacturing sectors and support increased engagement by manufacturing enterprises with research centres and technology centres focused on the needs of manufacturing sectors.

Work will continue on the 6 remaining Disruptive Reforms from 2013 as
follows:

Big Data/Data Analytics

Advancing the agenda to make Ireland a leading country in Europe in Big Data and data analytics by measures including the launch of an Open Data
initiative and further strengthening enterprise engagement in the €88 million Insight Research Centre and the CeADAR Technology Centre.


ICT Skills

Publish a revised ICT Skills Action Plan informed by the recent Forfás/EGFSN study forecasting high levels of ICT skills needs to 2018, that would further progress increases made in the domestic supply of ICT graduate output and move from 63 per cent of demand in 2014 to 74 per cent of demand
in 2018.

 

Integrated Licensing Application Service

Reducing the regulatory burden on the enterprise sector by delivering an Integrated Licensing Application Service for the retail sector.

 

Trading Online

Targeting 2,000 micro and small businesses over a two year period from 2014 to support them to engage in online trading, building on successful trial
undertaken in Dublin.

 

Energy Efficiency

Establishing an Energy Efficiency Fund and supporting exemplar projects on energy efficiency to progress the ambition of transforming Ireland into one
of the most energy efficient economies in Europe.

 

National Health Innovation Hub

Establishing the National Health Innovation Hub in 2014, building on the successful implementation of the Cork Demonstrator Project, to produce new
healthcare technologies, products, and services by linking commercial enterprises with the Irish health system. It is proposed to continue the process of working with Industry Partners in 2014 to deliver these Disruptive Reforms.

 

Other Key Initiatives

Indigenous Enterprise

Enterprise Ireland will target the creation of 13,000 new fulltime permanent jobs and support clients to achieve €17.5bn in exports in 2014.
Enterprise Ireland will also implement mentoring programmes for the benefit of more than 300 clients.


Foreign Direct Investment

The IDA will target 13,000 new gross jobs yielding approximately 6,000 net new jobs and work to win another 155 new FDI investment projects in 2014
with 20 per cent from growth markets.


Access to Finance

To further improve access to finance for micro, small and medium enterprises in Ireland, key priorities for 2014 include: increasing new lending to SMEs; increasing participation in Government sponsored access to finance schemes for SMEs such as the Microenterprise Loan Fund and the Credit Guarantee Scheme; raising the level of awareness amongst SMEs and entrepreneurs of the business supports available; and enhancing the financial capability of SMEs.

 

Regional Development

Regions that support strong and dynamic enterprises are crucial to Ireland's return to overall economic growth and IDA Ireland will start to build new advanced manufacturing facilities and office space in regional locations to create fresh opportunities for FDI.

 

Sectors

The Action Plan puts a strong focus on a number of domestically trading sectors, including Construction & Property, Retail and Social Enterprise where there is potential for significant job creation with the correct supporting measures. This section also builds on sectors which have been growing over the last number of years, such as Agri-food, Tourism, International Financial Services, Aviation Services and the Green Economy.

Year of Irish Design 2015

The overall objective of the year is to sustain and create employment opportunities, sales and export potential for the Irish design sector, by encouraging investment in design as a key component of competitiveness and innovation and by showcasing Irish design nationally and in international design capitals during 2015. Year of Irish Design will be convened by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and collaboration between design practitioners, design organisations, and the government departments, and their agencies, who have an interest in design. Its aim is to enjoin all parts of the design economy - from education and
enterprise support providers through to the private sector - in a concerted effort to promote export opportunities for design businesses.

 

According to an evaluation carried out by Indecon on behalf of DCCoI, craft and design makes a significant contribution to business, job creation and
export potential. The evaluation estimates that the crafts sector in Ireland has a total turnover of almost €500m, including exports of €125m,
and is responsible for over 5,700 jobs. The evaluation also concluded that the sector had the potential to grow significantly over the medium term, to
a level of employment of 7,500 and potential output of €700m, including exports of €175m.

Action Plan for Jobs Impact Indicators

Working with the OECD we will be developing impact indicators to fine-tune development and implementation of jobs policy through the Action Plan for
Jobs. Key areas of focus in 2014 will be on:
- Establishing the links, where possible, between actions in the Action Plan and the achievement of intermediate impacts in areas such as Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Internationalisation, Skills Enhancement and Access to Finance;
- The linkages between these intermediate impacts and the ultimate policy objectives of increasing employment and reducing unemployment while also increasing competitiveness and productivity in the Irish economy.
NewERA and Irish Strategic Investment Fund established during 2014

Both of these initiatives are expected to make a very significant contribution to the Irish economy in the years to come. In 2011, NewERA was
established on an administrative basis to support a commercial investment programme in vital economic infrastructure. NewERA will be established on a
statutory basis in 2014. It will continue to be central to the Government's job plans by identifying and advising on opportunities for the commercial investment programme in vital economic infrastructure. In addition it will have a role in the provision of independent advice on all aspects of the business, operations and governance of commercial semi-states under its remit. The National Pensions Reserve Fund's (NPRF) discretionary portfolio is valued at circa €6.8 billion as at 31 December 2013. In 2014, the ISIF will be established with a commercial Ireland-focused investment mandate,
absorbing the resources of the NPRF. In anticipation of the NPRF's conversion into the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, the NPRF has been
working to develop a pipeline of potential investments. A number of these have been concluded and as a result, the NPRF now has €1.3 billion invested
or committed to areas of strategic importance to the Irish economy including infrastructure, venture capital and long-term financing for SMEs.


SME procurement

Building on the progress so far which has seen for example 17,000 additional SMEs register on the Government's eTenders website suring 2013,
further measures to make it easier for SMEs to win Government contracts will be introduced during 2014. In particular, we will review and update
the Government's Procurement Guidelines and Procedures to address any obstacles to SMEs participating as fully as possible in the public
procurement process €5million built heritage jobs scheme A new €5 million Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme to encourage
investment of private capital through matching public funds in a large number of small-scale, labour-intensive projects to repair and conserve
historic structures, while supporting the employment of skilled and experienced conservation professionals, craft workers and trades people.
This initiative will be linked to a targeted training scheme in traditional building skills

ENDS