By Eamon Quinn
The Government signalled it is weighing new approaches to promote “quality jobs” as opposed to focusing on the number of posts, as it reacts to evidence of huge regional wealth imbalances and productivity gaps facing Irish SMEs.
Taoiseach Leo Varadar, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, and Business Minister Heather Humphreys said they are working on a new strategy, called the Future Jobs Programme, which they plan to promote at a conference in November and fully unveil in January.
“Now that we’re approaching full employment we need to be a bit smarter and a bit more strategic.
We want to create the jobs of the future, jobs that will be around in 20 years’ time, jobs which pay well and offer employment security,” Mr Varadkar said.
“The Future Jobs Programme will provide a cross-governmental framework in which to consider these challenges and to set out necessary reforms in areas such as skills, innovation, participation, and productivity,” said Mr Donohoe.
It comes as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development earlier this year highlighted the huge productivity between Irish SMEs and the many multinationals based here, while many leading economists have drawn attention to the skewed nature of economic activity between regions that favours Dublin.
Despite Brexit concerns, the IDA in June said Ireland won 139 investment projects in the first six months of the year, up from 114 a year earlier, that would in time create 11,300 jobs.
Experts have warned about the potential risks of overheating, while the construction industry has warned about the lack of skilled staff that could stop the Government from meeting even basic targets of building new homes.
Further evidence of “a substantial increase” in building output was provided by the Ulster Bank survey of construction industry purchasing managers.
Its index in July showed all three parts of the industry — commercial, housing and even civil engineering —had boosted output.
Commercial building rose “sharply” and housing “recorded the fastest rise of those monitored by the survey as the rate of expansion accelerated”.