Some 5,000 places will be opened for unemployed people under a new national internship scheme. The placements will last between six to nine months at a time, within a limited two-year period. Those signing on will get the cash on top of their benefits if they take on work in the private, public and voluntary sectors.
But the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) warned that, while the scheme is welcome, it might not be enough to deter thousands of graduates from emigrating.
“Given that a majority of young people only qualify for the lowest levels of social welfare, the provision of an upskilling bonus will still leave many participants paid well below the full rate of Job Seeker’s Benefit,” said USI president Gary Redmond.
Companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Siemens, whose board members are part of the group called FIT or Fastrack to IT said that many firms are seeking workers in the areas of cloud computing, software testing, computer systems engineering, games development and mobile technologies but they can’t find them. However they said the Government’s new jobs initiative will help in the training of people in these areas.
“It is a no brainer that if we skill people in this areas they will be able to walk into jobs.
“Matching skills with vacancies has to become a priority in this country,” said Peter Davitt, chief executive of FIT.
Mr Noonan also announced a new loan scheme for small and medium-sized businesses. He said too that Ireland’s corporate tax rate of 12.5% was “here to stay”. He also announced the halving of employers’ PRSI for low-paid workers below €356 a week, affecting 600,000 workers.
The scheme will, according to the Government be designed to encourage banks to lend to new or expanding commercially viable small businesses “so that they can grow their company, develop new products or expand into new markets”.
Small business group ISME praised the jobs initiative but said what is “urgently needed” is a comprehensive economic plan which addressed the government deficit, the total cost base and the banking crisis.
It said the part loan guarantee scheme needs to be implemented effectively, together with forcing the banks to lend to viable businesses.
Yesterday Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said governments don’t create jobs, entrepreneurs do.
He said it is the risk takers, the business people, the exporters up and down the country who have succeeded often despite, not because of, Government action.
“Governments through their decisions can and do affect the environment in which these wealth and job creators operate,” he said.
Also announced in the initiative is a micro-finance fund that will provide funding for small loans to start-ups. Government bodies excluding commercial semi states will be also required to pay suppliers within 15 days of receipt of a valid invoice.