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 Header Item Written Answers
 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1-24
 Header Item Job Creation
 Header Item Joint Labour Committees Agreements
 Header Item IDA Job Numbers
 Header Item Economic Growth Initiatives
 Header Item Credit Guarantee Scheme Operations
 Header Item Enterprise Support Schemes
 Header Item Job Creation Data
 Header Item Underemployment Data
 Header Item Job Initiatives
 Header Item IDA Job Numbers
 Header Item Non-Resident Companies
 Header Item Job Creation Targets
 Header Item Action Plan for Jobs
 Header Item Job Creation Data
 Header Item Economic Competitiveness
 Header Item Retail Sector Issues

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 816 No. 3

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Written Answers

 The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].

Written Answers Nos. 1-24

  Questions Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive, answered orally.

Job Creation

 9. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the impact on job creation and entrepreneurship of the mandatory PRSI increase on the self-employed recently advocated by the advisory group on tax and social welfare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42718/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Terms of Reference of the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare provide for the group to “examine and report on issues involved in providing social insurance cover for self-employed persons in order to establish whether or not such cover is technically feasible and financially sustainable”.

The Group did not undertake an analysis of the wider social costs and benefits such as impact on job creation and entrepreneurship. The Report is a valuable contribution to the consideration of social protection for persons who are self-employed. It estimates that cover for Jobseekers Benefit would require a 1% increase in the self-employed contribution to be cost neutral, and cover for Invalidity Pension would require a 1.5% increase in contribution. It also showed that among those self-employed who do apply for the means-tested Jobseekers Assistance, the approval rate is high at 85% though it recognised that it is difficult to quantify the extent to which needs are being addressed. It pointed to a number of features of the system that may make it more difficult for self-employed persons to access entitlements in this area, ranging from lack of awareness to individual features of the means test. The Group also recommended compulsory cover for Invalidity Pension but was not persuaded of the extension of Jobseekers Benefit.

In the present climate, Government must be careful of any measures that increase the costs of establishing and operating a business.

On the positive side, entrepreneurs would be provided with an additional ‘safety net’. However, it is relevant that the responses received to the public consultation undertaken by the Advisory Group did not identify a lack of entitlement to the Invalidity Pension as a concern. The Group’s proposals for simplification of the methodology for assessing means for the self-employed are welcome.

However, in accordance with the Groups Terms of Reference, the group did not undertake a cost-benefit analysis regarding the economic merits of extending social insurance cover to the self-employed, and these require further consideration.

Joint Labour Committees Agreements

 10. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will confirm that orders signed by him regarding joint labour committees will fully reflect and give force to the recommendations of the Labour Court. [42600/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton On the 1st  of October last, I published the Report of the Labour Court’s Review of the Joint Labour Committee (JLC) system. The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2012 provides that reviews of each JLC be carried out by the Labour Court, as soon as practicable after the commencement of the Act, and at least once every 5 years thereafter. The review assisted the Labour Court’s deliberations as to whether any JLC should be abolished, maintained in its current form, amalgamated with another JLC or its establishment order amended and the Labour Court is required to make recommendations to me to this effect.

  I have accepted the recommendations contained in the Report.   When I published the Report I indicated my intention to abolish the Dublin Hotels, and the Law Clerks’ JLCs, to narrow the scope of the Agricultural, Hairdressing, Retail Grocery, Hotels (outside Dublin), Contract Cleaning and Security JLCs, while amending the administration of the two Catering JLCs pending their amalgamation following amended legislation. In the latter context, I also stated my intention to look at applying the Hairdressing JLC country-wide once the necessary legislation is passed.

  In publishing the Report and outlining the legal steps necessary for implementation of the Labour Court’s recommendations, I have been particularly mindful of issues arising as a result of the recent Supreme Court ruling in relation to Registered Employment Agreements (the McGowan   case).

  With the exception of the Agriculture JLC, implementation of the recommendations regarding the scope of the other nine JLCs will be given effect by way of Ministerial Order. As the Agricultural Workers JLC was established under primary legislation (the Industrial Relations Act 1976), an amendment to the Establishment Order requires amending primary legislation. I anticipate that the Establishment Orders necessary to give effect to the recommendations regarding the other nine JLCs will be made over the coming weeks.

  At the conclusion of this process there will be eight JLCs remaining – and this will drop to seven when the legislation required to implement the recommendation relating to the Catering JLCs is enacted – leaving slightly over half the number that operated at the beginning of the reform process which I pursued on coming to Office. This latest development sits squarely within the context of the change required to improve Ireland's competitiveness by enhancing wage flexibility while also ensuring protection for vulnerable workers.

IDA Job Numbers

 11. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of posts that were expected to be created in 2012 for which €2.8 million of employment grants were returned to the Industrial Development Agency. [42587/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton When approving financial assistance for a company, IDA Ireland enters into a legal and binding contract with the company involved. The contract, which is confidential between IDA Ireland and the company, includes conditions and milestones with which the company is required to comply before any financial assistance is paid. All IDA clients enter into formal Grant Agreements in full knowledge that the penalty for non-performance is a pro-rata repayment of grants.

Employment Grants for approved job creation projects are only paid following investment incurred by IDA approved clients and the creation of actual jobs. Where a shortfall in job numbers arises, IDA will review the case and seek recovery of grant where appropriate.

IDA monitors job creation in individual client companies on an on-going basis. In addition the Annual Employment Survey, which is carried out by Forfás, is utilised by IDA as a further tool of verification of job numbers in IDA sponsored companies. In addition, at the time of a grant claim, IDA also seeks formal verification of job numbers, prior to payment of the grant.

I am informed by IDA that during 2012 the Agency received employment grant refunds totalling €2.8m from 8 client companies. Approximately 30% of the amount refunded related to company closures with the loss of approximately 220 jobs in total. The balance of funds recouped related to existing IDA Ireland client companies who are still operating in Ireland, but who did not fully comply with all the terms of the grant agreements. This could be, for example, because a particular product or service that formed part of the business case for the grant has ceased production/provision for market reasons.

IDA Ireland continues to work closely with these companies in order to win new forms of business and to encourage them to transform their operations in Ireland to ensure that they remain viable, competitive and embedded in the economy.

Economic Growth Initiatives

 12. Deputy John Browne Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the actions he will take following the recent report on employment in the south east region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42709/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on the South East Economic Development Strategy (SEEDS), launched on the 16th  September, is a helpful contribution to identifying possible interventions to assist the South East region economically.

  It represents a comprehensive detailed assessment of a wide range of factors that can contribute to the overall economic development of the South East region.    Currently my Department is considering the contents of this report, and assessing the merits and practicality of its recommendations. Some of the suggested actions relate to matters which come within the remit of other Government Departments or bodies and some of the recommendations could have significant financial implications, which would be a challenge in the current financial climate.

  This report builds on the comprehensive Forfás South East Action Plan which I commissioned at the time of the Talk Talk   closure. Work is on-going on the implementation of those Action Plan recommendations, with agencies and stakeholders working together to maximise benefits for the region. I have also established a South East Forum of the key stakeholders within the region. Hopefully this new report will complement and reinforce the objectives of the current Action Plan.

  All the key State players have been actively pursuing initiatives to facilitate development and job creation in the region, and I look forward to continued co-operation and collaboration with real benefits for the South East.

  I will be asking the South East forum to let me have their considered views on the Joint Committee report. I will, in due course, also be happy to discuss its findings with the committee, in the context of our ongoing constructive dialogue.

Credit Guarantee Scheme Operations

 13. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the operation to date of the credit guarantee scheme; the number of jobs it has supported; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42711/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) began operations on 24th October 2012. By its nature the Scheme is demand driven. As at 4th October there were 69 live CGS facilities resulting in €9.7m being sanctioned through the Scheme by the participating lenders resulting in 433 new jobs being created and 139 jobs maintained. There are 3 banks participating: Bank of Ireland, AIB and Ulster Bank. Such an initiative has never been implemented in Ireland before, despite many calls for such a scheme to be introduced.

The key challenge in relation to this Scheme is to ensure that in the first instance the banks, and in particular, the relevant local level bank officials are aware that there is support for SMEs, who because of a lack of collateral (Pillar 1) and/or because of an inadequacy of understanding of the novelty of a business model, market, sector or technology, face difficulties in accessing traditional bank credit (Pillar 2). It is crucial that these bank officials see the Credit Guarantee Scheme as a key tool they have access to in order to facilitate lending to SMEs. Therefore, the banks need to integrate the Scheme into their credit function and to up-skill credit underwriters in relation to the Scheme. Any application for credit that is declined because of Pillar 1 and/or 2 should then be considered by the bank for inclusion under the Scheme. I have been assured by the banks of their support for the operation of the Scheme and that it is being promoted appropriately within the bank structures.

The second main challenge is around raising awareness amongst SMEs and their advisers. Awareness amongst these groups should increase the number of enquiries to banks for the Scheme, and this increase in demand should feed into the number of Credit Guarantee Facilities provided.

Given these challenges and because take-up continued to be slow, the Scheme was recently independently reviewed with a view to identifying the reasons for this and recommending changes to the Scheme design. The Review included detailed consultations with all key stakeholders. A Steering Group, chaired by my Department, is currently assessing the expert Review and will shortly report back to me outlining what action needs to be taken to amend the Scheme. I intend to publish the Review once this assessment is complete.

I will then take whatever action is necessary to maximise the take-up of the Scheme. This may include amending the Credit Guarantee Act 2012, making a new Credit Guarantee Scheme and re-launching the Scheme with a marketing campaign and communications strategy supported by all interested parties.

I recognise that there is a greater challenge around SMEs’ awareness of and understanding of the full suite of Government financial supports. The Government is working through the SME State Bodies Group, chaired by the Department of Finance, to develop a Communications Strategy in relation to all supports, financial and advisory, to business through the use of on-line and other resources and a Credit and Lending Newsletter for SMEs. This work is ongoing.

Enterprise Support Schemes

 14. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the actions he will take to deal with the emigration of highly skilled persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42733/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The focus of our Action Plan for Jobs is to promote job growth in the enterprise sectors. This is the most effective way to deal with the emigration and in particular the emigration of those with high skills. As the Deputy knows, data from the CSO has confirmed that the Enterprise sector has created 39,000 additional jobs in the past twelve months. The break down by nationality estimates that over 90% of these jobs went to Irish nationals.

  One of the policy issues which we are focussing upon is the skills mismatch between job opportunities arising and the skills of persons entering the labour market.

  The level of net emigration in the past few years has been 33/34,000. Within this number there has been a significant rise in the number of Irish nationals leaving. There are currently no statistics available on the skills profile of recent Irish emigrants. The impact of migration on the labour market and available skills depends on a range of factors including, for example, the age at which people migrate, whether they are of working age and their occupational skillset.

  The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, which reports to both myself and the Minister for Education and Skills, plays a key role in advising on future enterprise skills needs and emerging gaps. The work of the expert group informs the selection of new targeted programmes designed to provide interventions to tackle the skills shortages in particular sectors of the economy, e.g. Springboard, Momentum and the ICT skills conversion initiative, which was introduced as part of the ICT Action Plan. In 2013, there will be continued targeted investment in over 430,000 part-time and full-time places across the further and higher education and training sectors, all of which are open to unemployed people including young people and the long-term unemployed. This investment includes the provision of the Skillnets Training Networks Programme, which is enterprise-led by nature, where the development of training is led by representatives of industry to ensure that training provision meets the identified needs of the network stakeholders and companies.

  The aim of the Action Plan for Jobs is to support the creation of 100,000 net new jobs by 2016, while the objective of Pathways to Work is to provide those who are unemployed with the appropriate training and skills to avail of the job opportunities which will arise as the economy recovers.

  Even with continued job losses in more traditional sectors such as Construction, and Financial, Insurance and Administrative activities, we have seen an increase in employment in sectors targeted by the Action Plan for Jobs, for example Tourism Agri-food, ICT and Digital Gaming. These developments demonstrate the transformation which is taking place in the economy which had become too dependent on the Construction sector and domestic demand to support economic growth.

  By continuing the process of transforming our economy step by step through the Action Plan for Jobs, we aim to provide opportunities for those who wish to continue to live and work in Ireland.

Job Creation Data

 15. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of jobs created as a result of the increase in exports since the Government came to office. [42594/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Driving export growth is central to our economic recovery and is a key focus of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs. Enterprise Agency supported companies account for more than 80% of Ireland’s total exports.

  CSO figures show that our strong export performance is continuing. Total exports in 2012 by companies based in Ireland amounted to €182.155bn – an increase of 5.48% over the figure of €172.696bn for 2011.

  In 2012, Enterprise Ireland had a record year for exports by their client companies of €16.2bn, which were up by €1bn, or 6%.

  IDA supported companies also saw an increase in exports to €122bn in 2011, (the latest figures available) which were up by 8%, from €110bn in 2010.

  2012, was also a particularly good year for job creation in companies supported by these Agencies, with IDA client companies creating a total of 12,722 gross new jobs. Clients of Enterprise Ireland created 12,861 gross new jobs. In total, agency assisted companies accounted for direct employment of 285,000 in 2011 and 294,000 in 2012, and are indirectly responsible for a similar number of jobs in ancillary and support services.

  The latest Central Statistics Office release shows that employment increased by 33,800 in the year to Quarter 2 2013, net of a reduction of 5,400 in public sector numbers. This was the third consecutive Quarter where an increase in employment was recorded.

  We have now moved from a situation where the private sector was losing over 7,000 jobs per month before this Government came to office, to the present situation where it is creating close to 3,000 jobs per month.

  I am determined, through the implementation of the Government’s annual Action Plan for Jobs process, to continue the transition to a sustainable economy, through growing our exports, and creating the jobs we need.

  Central to the Action Plan is ensuring greater access for Irish companies to real opportunities to break into new markets, grow their exports and create much needed jobs for this economy.

  I am currently preparing the 2014 Action Plan on behalf of the Government and we will continue, through that process, to build on the success of the actions we have taken over the last two years.

Underemployment Data

 16. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the steps he has taken to tackle the issue of underemployment including supporting and promoting full time employment. [42588/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) provides estimates of the number of people who are working on a part-time basis involuntarily, which is also known as part-time underemployment.

  Under the Eurostat definition applied in the Quarterly National Household Survey an underemployed part-time worker is a person aged 15-74 working part-time who would like to work additional hours and is available to do so. Part-time work is recorded as self-reported by individuals.

  The estimated number of part-time underemployed persons in the second quarter of 2013 was 149,400. This represents a decrease over the past year, and is down 7,300 or -4.6% on the position in the second quarter of 2012. This is the first annual decline in part-time underemployment recorded since the third quarter of 2010. Part-time underemployment represented 33.0% of total part-time employment in Q2 2013, down from 34.3% in Q2 of 2012.

  Opportunities to access full-time jobs and up-skilling and further career development are essential to overcome involuntary part-time work and to provide individuals with the necessary means to maintain their employability and make transitions work.

  Employment is now increasing across many sectors and occupations, both in full-time and in part-time employments. The latest information from the Quarterly National Household Survey shows an annual increase in employment of 1.8% or 33,800 in the year to the second quarter of 2013, bringing total employment to 1,869,900. The QNHS data shows that the increase in total employment of 33,800 in the year to Q2 2013 was represented by an increase in full-time employment of 21,600 (+1.5%) and an increase in part-time employment of 12,100 (+2.8%).

  It will be through transitioning the economy onto a competitive and sustainable path that greater employment opportunities will be created for those that are currently underemployed. The policies to address underemployment align with wider employment strategy. Assisting companies to win new markets, to innovate and grow are essential to overcome underemployment. The Action Plan for Jobs concentrates on implementing changes to help promote entrepreneurship, improve access to finance, the capacity of our companies and educational institutions to innovate and build new sectors of opportunity.

Job Initiatives

 17. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on whether the PRSI measures introduced as part of the 2011 jobs initiative have assisted in job creation; the impact he expects from the planned ending of these measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42721/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Government’s Jobs Initiative of May 2011 was aimed at restoring confidence in the economy, providing opportunities for re-skilling those who had lost their jobs, and assisting people in getting back to work.

Key measures in the Jobs Initiative included halving the rate of Employer’s PRSI on earnings up to €356 per week, a reduction in the lower rate of VAT on certain goods and services, targeted Capital spending on labour-intensive projects, and the introduction of the national Internship scheme, JobBridge.

The reduction in the Employer’s PRSI rate was introduced on a temporary basis, to the end of 2013. Any decisions concerning PRSI measures for 2014 will be a matter for the Minister for Finance in the context of next week’s Budget.

The Government’s primary strategy to support job creation since the Jobs Initiative has been the Action Plan for Jobs. The Action Plan has introduced a wide range of additional measures to support job creation in 2012 and 2013. For example, arising from a commitment in the 2013 Action Plan for Jobs, the Government launched JobsPlus last July. This is a new incentive that offers employers a grant of €7,500 for recruiting a jobseeker between 12 and 24 months unemployed, and €10,000 for recruiting a jobseeker over two years unemployed.

The latest CSO employment figures show that there were 33,800 more people in employment in Quarter 2 of this year than there were in the same period last year. Unemployment fell by 22,200 in the same period. We have now moved from a situation where the private sector was losing over 7,000 jobs per month before this Government came to office, to the present situation where it is creating close to 3,000 jobs per month.

The Government will continue to build on this progress through the Action Plan for Jobs in 2014, as we transform the economy from one based on unsustainable debt to one based on enterprise, innovation and exports.

IDA Job Numbers

 18. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of new posts supported by the Industrial Development Agency that were to be realised in 2013; and the number of such posts that are in place to date. [42586/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Forfás Annual Employment Survey reports on job gains and losses in companies that are supported by the enterprise development agencies and figures for the number of jobs created in IDA Ireland client companies in 2013 will not be available until the end of the year. There is usually a time lag of between three to five years between an announcement of an investment and the jobs coming on stream, though this is not always the case. During 2012 there were 88 investments announcements by IDA Ireland client companies, with the potential to create in the region of 8,000 jobs. It should be noted that not all jobs announced in a given year actually materialise in that calendar year for a variety of reasons, including delays with projects. Even so, the number of new jobs created in IDA Ireland client companies in any one year usually exceeds the number of jobs announced because existing IDA client companies often add to their workforce. The Forfás Annual Employment survey shows that a total of 12,722 new jobs were created in IDA client companies during 2012. In the first 6 months of 2013, 70 investment projects, with the potential to create in the region of 7,000 jobs have been announced by IDA Ireland client companies.

Among the companies who announced job creation plans in the first half of 2013 were Ebay, EMC, McAfee, Pfizer, Sanofi, Symantec, Zurich, Huawei, Yahoo, Facebook, Vistakon, Guidewire, Squarespace, Groupon, Qualcomm, Novartis, Nypro, AOL and FireEye.

Non-Resident Companies

 19. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of persons employed in the Industrial Development Agency supported Irish registered non-resident companies and the value of those companies to the economy.  [42591/13]

 32. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of the Industrial Development Agency supported companies that are Irish registered non-resident companies.  [42590/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 32 together.

  I understand from my colleague the Minister for Finance that he has been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of companies that are incorporated here but non-resident for tax purposes is not available as they are not separately compiled.

Job Creation Targets

 20. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if the target for the Action Plan for Jobs of 100,000 additional net posts is a figure for full time equivalent posts or includes an increase in part time employment. [42580/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In the Action Plan for Jobs, the Government has set a target of having 100,000 more people at work by 2016. Obviously, the more of these jobs that can be filled on a full-time basis, the better it is for those in the labour force. It is important to remember, however, that part-time work is an important choice for some people due to their personal circumstances, and many people benefit from this type of flexible working arrangement.

  The latest employment figures published by the CSO show that employment in the economy increased by 33,800 year-on-year to the end of Quarter 2 2013, net of a reduction of 5,400 in public sector employment. The figures also indicate that the number of people in full-time employment increased by 21,600 over the year. Part-time employment increased by 12,100. This was in sharp contrast to the previous Quarter, when full-time employment fell by 3,700 year-on-year and part-time employment increased by 24,200.

  While it is too early to draw definitive conclusions from these figures, they suggest that, as signs of economic recovery take hold, businesses are showing a greater willingness to offer full-time jobs.

  One of the key initiatives under the Action Plan this year has been the introduction of the JobsPlus scheme, which provides financial support to employers who provide full-time employment to people who have been on the Live Register for 12 months or longer. Details of this initiative, which is administered by the Department of Social Protection, are available at www.welfare.ie.

Action Plan for Jobs

 21. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the impact of the loss of graduates to emigration on the Action Plan For Jobs. [42578/13]

 44. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on whether the lack of employment and career development is a key determinate of emigration; and the steps he will take to tackle the issues. [42579/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 44 together.

I recognise that there has been an increase in emigration, particularly amongst young people, since the start of the recession. However, CSO data also indicates that significant numbers of Irish migrants have been returning to the country since 2008. For example, 20,600 Irish people returned to Ireland in the year up to April 2012, and a further 15,700 returned up to April 2013. Many of them are coming home having gained skills and expertise abroad that we can now capture to strengthen the operation and management of companies based here. Some have also set up their own businesses and therefore help to support the objectives of the Action Plan for Jobs.

Lack of employment opportunities during the recession has, no doubt, contributed to emigration in recent years. However, even during the so-called “Celtic Tiger” years, Irish people chose to emigrate for career or personal reasons.

A recent survey by UCC showed that 47% of Irish emigrants had full time jobs when they emigrated, while just under 40% wanted to travel and experience other cultures. Others will have moved within their company to postings in other countries as part of a career development or global mobility plan. Many of these emigrants will gain important skills and insights from working overseas, but may well return to Ireland in the future.

We are also more engaged with those who have emigrated, through the Global Irish Network. The Government has put in place a mechanism, through the Global Irish Network, to take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of the diaspora, as well as using their personal networks to communicate to others the recovery that is happening in our economy.

The diaspora are also active in attracting new companies to Ireland. Last week, along with the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, I announced that four companies are establishing new operations in Cork and Dublin under the “Succeed in Ireland” scheme which harnesses the power of the Irish Diaspora to attract foreign companies that are expanding internationally. The companies involved in last week’s announcement will create a total of 83 new jobs in the economy. “Succeed in Ireland”, which is an Action Plan for Jobs initiative, is a practical example of how Irish emigrants are supporting our objective of generating more employment for all who wish to live and work in Ireland.

Job Creation Data

 22. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the total number of net new jobs created in each of the past 12 months to date in both the manufacturing and services sectors; the extent to which it is expected to capitalise further in this regard in the coming year, sector by sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42703/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The most up to date figures available for job creation in the manufacturing and services sector are included in the Forfás Employment Survey 2012. There is no data available on a month to month basis for each of these sectors.

  In relation to the Manufacturing sector, the total number of jobs lost in 2012 was 7,987; the number of jobs gained in 2012 was 10,704. Therefore the total net new full-time jobs created in manufacturing for 2012 is 2,717.

  The Action Plan for Jobs 2012  included a series of actions to address the Manufacturing Sector, in order to exploit the advances in manufacturing technology, and to build and maintain a strong base of manufacturing activity. This developed as a result of the challenges facing the sector and of the imperative of supporting the employment levels in that sector. It is our ambition to create an additional 20,000 jobs by 2016.

  It is important to retain focus on sustaining what we have, currently there are now 205,700 people directly employed in manufacturing (both full-time and part-time), and a similar number of people employed indirectly: the total supported within the sector is therefore just over 400,000.

  The Services sector accounts for two thirds of total employment within Ireland. While the majority of service firms are not supported by the State, in respect of agency supported companies, the total number of jobs lost in 2012 was 6,950; the number of jobs gained in 2012 was 13,229. Therefore the total net new full-time jobs created in the agency supported service industry for 2012 is 6,279.

The 2013 Action Plan for Jobs outlines a range of sectoral initiatives to facilitate new and established companies grow in the Services sector with particular focus on International

Financial Services, Business Process Outsourcing/Shared Services, Education Services, Retail and Wholesale, Tourism, Construction Services and ICT Services.

  By concentrating on where our competitive advantages lie, in both manufacturing and services, and building on last year's Action Plan for Jobs and the new Jobs plan to be announced in the near future, I am confident that further growth in employment will be achieved.

Economic Competitiveness

 23. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the implications for competitiveness of Irish business of continually rising energy costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42730/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Energy costs in Ireland are influenced by various drivers, including global gas and oil prices, exchange rate fluctuations, the small size of the Irish market, geographical location and low population density.

The most important factor affecting energy prices in Ireland is the continuing upward trend in international gas prices. In Europe, wholesale gas prices have been on an upward curve since 2009. This is driven by events in the Middle East, North Africa, Japan and by the significant growth in demand from China and India. This feeds directly through to retail electricity prices, as most of Ireland’s electricity is produced at gas-fired stations.

The trend of increasing gas prices in European wholesale markets underlines the need to maintain the focus on continuing to address controllable costs factors, to increase the penetration of indigenous renewables into the Irish energy system and to take action on improving energy efficiency in businesses. There are supports available to companies from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Environmental Protection Agency and Enterprise Ireland to help enterprises improve their resource efficiency, including energy efficiency.

As part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2012, Forfás undertook a study to identify changes in the operation of sectoral regulators that would enhance cost competitiveness. The sectors examined in the report are energy, telecommunications, transport, waste and water. The report, which was published in April, also assesses Ireland’s cost performance in these sectors relative to our key competitor countries and the drivers of costs, in particular those that are within and outside our control in each of the sectors studied.

The study finds that in many cases, policy actions have a more significant impact on cost competitiveness than regulatory changes. The report suggests that there are a number of areas where changes to the operation of sectoral regulators could have a real and positive impact on cost competitiveness. These changes relate to the focus of regulatory mandates, the level and adequacy of resources, enforcement powers and sanctions available to the regulators, and the efficiency of the appeal process.

On foot of the Forfás report, the Government published a new Policy Statement on Sectoral Economic Regulation on 22 July last. Included in this Policy Statement is a commitment that the forthcoming White Paper on Energy will include a regulatory mandate review, with a view to introducing legislation in 2015 for mandate reviews and hierarchy of objectives. The introduction of a hierarchy of objectives across all regulators will allow for the inclusion of competitiveness objectives, as well as taking account of both business and household consumer issues and competition objectives.

Retail Sector Issues

 24. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the progress that has been made by the interdepartmental group on the retail sector since the second quarter of the year; the initiatives it has recommended based on the submissions received; the initiatives he is taking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42719/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The 2013 Action Plan for Jobs contains a number of measures aimed at supporting the retail sector. These include an initiative to increase the number of small businesses trading on-line and a project to streamline business licence application procedures for the retail sector. In addition, the Action Plan includes a commitment to establish an Interdepartmental Group to consider further possible measures which can be taken in 2013 or 2014 to support job creation/retention in the sector.

  The Interdepartmental Group held its first meeting on 21 May and subsequently held a number of meetings with the main bodies representing the retail sector and other stakeholders, including practitioners, business representative bodies, workers representatives and the INOU. Suggestions received from this consultation process cover the following broad areas:

- Business Costs/Administration

- Planning Issues

- Skills/Training for the sector

- Social Welfare System

- Access to Finance

- Government Administration

- Hidden Economy

- Taxation

  The Interdepartmental Group is currently finalising its assessment of the various proposals received and will submit a report to me shortly, outlining its conclusions. Specific actions arising from this process will be included in the 2014 Action Plan for Jobs, which I am currently preparing on behalf of the Government.


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