Dail Speech on Employment and the National Internship Scheme- September 28th


It merits repeating that there is nothing more soul destroying or as negatively impacting on families as unemployment in terms of their decisions to have children, self development, confidence and so on. It is for that reason that this Government has from the outset treated unemployment as a priority. Everything the Government is doing is predicated on that principle.

The Minister, Deputy Burton, outlined the workings of the internship scheme on which 1,400 people have taken up places. It will be a huge life changing experience for those people. In the jobs initiative, of which the internship scheme is part, the Government restored the national minimum wage, cut PRSI and reduced VAT rates in labour intensive areas. There is anecdotal evidence of a real improvement in tourism this year and of the VAT rate cuts having been a success in the food and catering sectors, which is good news.

It is necessary that we continue to remove impediments to employment. The first major impediment to job creation is the shortage of credit flow in the economy. The creation of the two pillar banks is the first initiative to deal with this. The pillar banks will over a period lend €30 billion to small and medium enterprises. They are required to lend €3 billion this year, €3.5 billion next year and €4 billion in 2013, which is an important initiative. The partial loan guarantee scheme, which will be announced during the next few weeks, will assist businesses that have potential but cannot readily access credit. I believe that is hugely important.
A micro-finance start-up fund and business expansion loans are to be made available. All of this finance, which will enable small enterprises start up, is a critical part of recovery and job creation at this critical time when credit is not and has not been flowing. There has been a huge problem over the past few years in terms of credit flow in the economy. That remaining impediment needs to be addressed. In the context of job creation, another area that needs to be addressed is research and innovation. The Minister, Deputy Bruton, with his colleagues, the Minister of State, Deputy Perry, and others are currently reviewing the innovation agenda. Some €5 million will be spent on an applied research centre in cloud computing. Cloud computing is hugely important given that, according to recent reports from Microsoft, it has the potential to realise €9.5 billion annually and to employ 8,600 people by 2014. This extraordinary initiative must be supported. Some €6 million will be spent on a research centre in energy and the smart grid and €44 million will be spent on research teams in ICT and the live sciences. Innovation and research is critical to our recovery.

We must reduce costs in our economy, including in respect of professional fees and we must obtain more value for money in terms of how we do things. I have advocated in a lot of fora in the media the suggestion that as a first start we liberalise the legal profession. We must ensure barristers and solicitors can go into the same courts, do the same jobs and work together to reduce legal costs, as in the case of the medical profession. We must take on a value for money ethos and a value for money practical way of progressing in every one of our State agencies and so on. We must place a high emphasis on costs.

If we deal with costs, actively support research and innovation, continue with the current jobs initiative and get credit flowing we can, I believe, ensure consumer confidence returns and turn things around.

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website