THE IRISH economy has been going through a difficult transition, but the stories behind the 1,000 jobs announced for Cork over the past 10 days shows that we are on the right road.
In 2009, Pfizer announced the closure of its plant in Ringaskiddy. However, in 2011, BioMarin said it would buy the plant and last week announced it would employ a total of 140 people at that plant by 2015.
Similarly, Westbourne IT Global Services, last week, announced it will double its workforce to 100 over the next 18 months, and plans to employ 350 people by 2019.
In total, six companies made announcements. These companies have been supported by my department through IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.
What is often forgotten is that, for every 10 jobs created in exporting companies like these, on average, 10 additional jobs are created elsewhere in a cascade effect in local economies.
This means that when the projects announced for Cork in the past 10 days are fully rolled, they will support a total of more than 2,000 jobs in Cork and the surrounding region.
What is actually happening with these companies is the result of three different trends in the economy which we are trying to support through our Action Plan for Jobs.
Firstly, of the six companies, four are multinationals and two are Irish exporting companies. This mirrors what we are trying to achieve through our plan where we are targeting supports, not only at foreign direct investment, but also at high-growth exporting Irish companies who have huge potential.
Secondly, the growth is happening across a range of areas of sectors which we are targeting as part of the Action Plan for Jobs. The six companies comprise one international financial services company, One pharmaceutical company, two ICT/online companies, and two firms establishing business process operations here.
Thirdly, the major improvements in competitiveness which we have seen in recent years have played a significant role in allowing these announcements to happen.
Research Minister Sean Sherlock has made a significant contribution in this area by ensuring that our spend on research and innovation is better targeted at job creation.
These announcements in Cork reflect what is happening across the country, where companies supported by the Department of Jobs through IDA and Enterprise Ireland are blazing trails in export markets and creating large numbers of additional jobs.
However, what is often forgotten in all this is that, despite their huge importance for the overall economy, IDA and Enterprise Ireland companies on their own will never solve the employment crisis. In total, these companies account for less than one fifth of the total jobs in Ireland.
That is why, as well as targeting supports at these exporting companies, we have also brought in new supports for the entrepreneurs and SMEs that are the backbone of the economy, with for example the 10-point SME tax plan in Michael Noonan’s Budget 2013 and the recent plan for entrepreneurship by Sean O’Sullivan of Dragon’s Den. Employment among the self-employed has grown substantially over the past year.
We have also introduced new supports for companies in the tourism and agriculture/food sectors, driven by Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney, and we have seen significant jobs growth in these areas over the past two years
While it is very satisfying to see major high-profile announcements like those in Cork over recent days, it is far more satisfying to see the that employment is increasing across virtually all parts of the country and sectors of the economy.
Clearly, we have a long way to go before we have replaced all the jobs that were lost during the crash, but we can have some confidence that we are on the right road. The aim now must be to build on the progress we have made and accelerate it, so that we can provide jobs for the unemployed people who badly need them.
There is no silver bullet solution to the jobs crisis. The only way to create the jobs we need is through determined action across the economy. We undoubtedly have a long way to go in this area, but as the past 10 days in Cork shows, we are on the right road.
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