|Ministers, Richard Bruton and Ruairi Quinn and Martin Shanahan (right) from Forfás, with Robin Rennicks (second from left) owner of Prodieco, Cookstown Industrial Estate, Tallaght, Dublin, April 22, 2013.
Irish Economy 2013: Another week and Richard
Bruton, jobs minister, at a media event announces another jobs aspiration/ plan.
This time it's a so-called plan for 20,000 additional jobs in the manufacturing
sector by 2016. Meanwhile, the apprenticeship system is in a shambles and a
disgrace compared with those provided by several European countries.
There are about 205,000 currently employed in the
manufacturing sector and US drugs and medical devices firms dominate the sector
in terms of output.
Richard Bruton and Ruairi Quinn, the
minister for education and skills, today published strategies prepared as part
of the Action Plan for Jobs.
The ministers have received reports from expert groups
which have come up with ideas over the past 2 years and it's not clear what
either minister believes is feasible and how serious they are in terms of giving
attention to the stated aspiration.
There is the inevitable laundry list of
initiatives and the potential for adding 43,000 new jobs by 2020 is promoted. So
this is where the 20,000 figure by 2016 is derived from.
The term 'strengths' appears in the
manufacturing report 49 times; weakness or weaknesses get no mention.
Competitiveness and access to finance are cited
as problems but these default reports in Ireland where the selected members of
expert groups produce output that seldom challenge policy makers, are an insult
Key actions are proposed across a range of areas,
including; access to new funding, management training and support, costs
reduction and technology adoption.
Irish apprenticeship system a shambles
Among the specific measures proposed are:
- A new Start-up Fund run by Enterprise
Ireland specifically targeting supports for new manufacturing start-ups;
- Enterprise Ireland to introduce a new
Capability Fund to support capital investment by manufacturing companies;
- EI and IDA to target additional financial
supports for R&D investment specifically targeted at engineering firms;
- A new National Step Change Initiative
available to all EI and IDA client companies that will systematically
support manufacturing companies to
- expand their client base through staff
training and Peer Learning,
- improve their adoption of new technologies
and embrace R&D,
- accelerate collaboration between companies
in similar sectors to generate greater efficiencies in areas like global
- Proposals to maintain or reduce costs to
manufacturing companies across areas like energy, waste, regulation, tax
- Better targeting of training at skills
shortages in the manufacturing sector through the implementation of the
Manufacturing Skills study.
This is pretty thin gruel, as a basis for
growing net jobs in manufacturing by 21%.
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