December Blog

The recent news on unemployment is truly excellent and is a real morale boost to us all. 58,000 new jobs over the last four-quarters and 1200 new jobs a week is a good news story. I think this will be maintained and indeed accelerated over the coming year.
Our exit from the Bailout and return to the Markets will assist inward investment as well as improving ratings from Moodys. As Banks gradually emerge from liquidity difficulties, credit will lend more readily to our small and medium enterprises. As confidence grows, they will also get less cautious.
The Youth Guarantee Scheme has great potential. Our Government are committed to its implementation. Evidence from Finland would suggest that its impact is tangible. The Job Bridge scheme, while not identical, has similarities and has resulted in a phenomenal 65% achievement of employment. The Youth Guarantee will ensure an intervention before four months of unemployment. Empirical evidence suggests that the risk of long-term unemployment declines radically with early intervention.
Consumer confidence is growing and anecdotal evidence would suggest that there are tentative signs of an extremely successful Christmas trading. A higher spend will ultimately increase employment. Jobs Plus, which gives attractive Tax rebates to companies, employing relatively long-term unemployed persons is very significant and will impact.
The continuation of the 9% VAT Rate on the hospitality sector is good news as this is a proven success. An understandable criticism that I receive of our successful employment initiatives is that the jobs tend to be centred on the Eastern seaboard and in larger urban centres.
Unfortunately, for rural Ireland, this is a valid obscuration. I am hopeful that initiatives under Pillar II of the Common Agricultural Policy will help here. What would help most is a wide ranging environmental scheme. For that reason I am a strong believer that we should match European Funding from our Exchequer. The multiplier effect and taxation will make this cost neutral, apart from other obvious societal benefits.
Everything we are doing in Government and all the enormous personal suffering stoically enhanced by our people is designed to lead to the creation of jobs. Nothing is more important or even comparable. We have a responsibility to every young person in this country and we cannot ignore those who are interested in taking up a skill or trade. As it is not possible to get a master for a craftsperson, we will have to provide simulated apprenticeships in training centres at college. Apprentices could work on extensions to schools and on other public works. A young person who cannot get an apprenticeship as a plasterer, block layer or carpenter due to the collapse of the construction industry, must get the full apprenticeship training in simulated conditions and in conditions as near to reality as possible. That is crucial. Unlike Germany, we departed too much from the traditional vocational model of schooling in this country, and that gap needs to be bridged.
I know that the Minister for Education and Skills announced a wide-ranging review of apprenticeships earlier this year in order to examine the future of apprenticeship training in Ireland, focus on work-based learning and ensure a closer alignment of the current needs of the Irish labour market.
In order for us to have a situation where we are creating new jobs on a daily basis, we need to ensure that the climate is right in order to new businesses to grow. All our actions as a Government and everything we do should be predicated on that principle. It is important that our people get back to work and everyone gets to participate in the economy and in society.

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