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Jobs Plan would still have 240,000 on the Live Register in 2020
The Irish Government’s ‘Action Plan for Jobs - 2012‘ contains more than 270 actions, identifies the Government Departments and agencies responsible for implementing each of these, and sets out timelines for delivery. It hopes to “create the environment where the number of people at work will increase by 100,000- from 1.8 million to 1.9 million – by 2016, and reach 2 million people by 2020”. In practice this means replacing every job that is lost in that period and adding an additional 100,000/200,000. It is not just about creating 100,000/200,000 jobs in the periods outlined.
If the Plan delivered in full on its aims, then in 2016 there would be 340,000 people on the live register in Ireland and this would fall to 240,000 by 2020. Looking strictly at those who are unemployed it would mean a reduction of close to one third in the numbers unemployed by 2016 and a reduction of almost two thirds in the numbers unemployed by 2020 if there was no further expansion in the labour force. In reality the labour force is set to increase in the coming decade so some emigration would be required during the next eight years for a reduction of two thirds to be achieved. Otherwise the target won’t be met.
It is far from clear how this plan’s proposals are expected to impact on Government’s targets. Based on Budget documentation projections provided by the Department of Finance, unemployment will marginally decrease in 2012 - driven by emigration. In the same Government forecast, employment is set to fall in 2012. In 2012 the Government’s forecast is that 14.1% of the labour force will be unemployed. It is clear that unemployment is set to remain at the very high levels to which it climbed over the period from 2007 to 2010
Of equally grave concern is Government’s forecast that unemployment will still be over 10% of the labour force in 2015 if everything else goes according to plan. In effect, it appears that Ireland is set to have very high levels of unemployment long after the current fiscal crisis has passed. This is a totally unacceptable situation.
Social Justice Ireland has continually called on Government to begin to take this crisis seriously and we indicated our regret that Budget 2012 failed to do so. We identified two key areas that needed major adjustment for action to be credible.
Firstly, we argued that action is required on the promissory note liabilities undertaken as part of the bailout of Anglo Irish bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society.
Secondly we argued that the Bailout Agreement must be adjusted to allow Ireland to invest so that it can generate the growth required to emerge from the present situation. We specifically proposed that the NPRF could be invested productively in targeted areas that will generate jobs.
The Plan proposes “through the Strategic Investment Fund, to channel commercial investment from the National Pension Reserve Fund, and matching investment from private sector investors, towards productive investment in the Irish economy. The NPRF will also commit €250 million to the Infrastructure Fund, which will seek up to €1 billion from institutional investors in Ireland and overseas for investment in infrastructure in Ireland.”
There is insufficient detail in the Plan to make any sensible conclusion on whether or not it is likely to succeed in its objectives. For example, the plan provides no serious assessment of the challenges facing Ireland or of the difficulties likely to be encountered in opening new export markets.
The report says: “The Government will continue to place science, technology and innovation at the heart of enterprise and jobs policies so that we are favourably positioned to capitalise on the opportunities that will arise as the global economy recovers.”
Ireland has spent over €10bn in the past five years on the State’s science budget but produced little in terms of jobs. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says there is “little evidence of success” in the commercialisation of university research. What is the justification for expecting that further investment in this area will be of benefit “as the global economy recovers”?
Social Justice Ireland continues also to urge Government to recognise that further action is urgently required to reduce the numbers long-term unemployed even if there is no increase in the numbers of jobs available in 2012.
Social Justice Ireland has made a proposal on this issue to provide real part-time jobs for 100,000 long-term unemployed people. Those who are long-term unemployed will gain little in the immediate future from the latest Government Action Plan.