Forfás: Export-led growth best route to job creation

Ireland has the potential to deliver economic growth and jobs that are sustainable into the future, right across the entire economy, according to a new report from Forfás.

The report from Ireland’s policy advisory board for enterprise and science emphasises that "it is businesses that create jobs and drive economic growth, and it is essential that the optimum business environment is in place to allow them to do so".

Making It Happen: Growing Enterprise for Ireland sets out a number of recommendations to address concerns raised by Irish enterprise and that can create this supportive environment.

Martin Shanahan, Chief Executive of Forfás said: "A return to export-led growth is the best route to deliver sustainable economic growth and job creation. Exports have a greater potential to grow and to fuel the domestic economy and deliver more job opportunities than could otherwise be achieved by an economic model dependent on consumption and/or government expenditure. This needs a ‘whole of enterprise’ approach to optimise the growth and jobs potential of all firms – firms that are exporting, firms with the potential to internationalise, and firms trading domestically”.

The report presents opportunities for growth across a wide range of sectors, ranging from pharmaceuticals and medical technologies, ICT, agri-food and financial services through to construction, retail and tourism.

It emphasises that services activities and high value added manufacturing will remain core to future growth and employment.

The report highlights that it is not a case of starting from scratch with enterprise policy.

Ireland has a proven track record in a number of markets and sectors for exports and foreign direct investment - international trade and investment has been relatively resilient during the recession - which can be expanded upon to exploit emerging opportunities.

“It is important that we continue to concentrate on enhancing the employability of the unemployed through focused and targeted reskilling programmes so that they can avail of these new opportunities”, Martin Shanahan added.

The report’s recommendations focus on the essential areas of education and skills, R&D and innovation, management development, public procurement, access to finance, infrastructure priorities, the regulatory environment and competition policies, which are relevant to all firms.

Creating this optimum environment requires coordinated action across the whole of government, the organisation said.

Martin Shanahan said: "Firms need to invest in innovation, to enhance productivity, develop management capability and invest in staff development. In this context, the report highlights the reality of the importance of access to credit for fundamentally viable firms as they weather the recession – so that it becomes not only about survival, but also about investing so that they are prepared to take advantage of future growth in global markets.

The full report, Making It Happen – Growing Enterprise for Ireland, is available to download from www.forfas.ie

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