Progress report: Growth is good, jobs are better

SIGNS we are on a sustainable economic growth path was confirmed by Enterprise Ireland yesterday when it revealed exports by Irish-owned companies increased by 10% last year, reaching a record high value of €18.6bn, up from €13.9bn in 2010.

The UK accounted for €6.8bn of this, while customers in the US and Canada bought €2.3bn worth of Irish goods.

The biggest percentage growth was recorded by the software sector, which means that, in an expanding global sector, we are punching far above our weight.

Enterprise Ireland is the State agency responsible for supporting Irish businesses in the manufacturing and internationally traded service and has done very well in recent years in supporting indigenous industry. However, we still have a way to go before that export growth begins to lead to a substantial number of sustainable, well paid jobs.

The figures coincided yesterday with the release of the Government’s 13th Action Plan for Jobs Progress Report. It speaks about an increase in funding for businesses, easier access to finance and advances in encouraging the employment of more young people.

But there was little in it to suggest it remains much more than aspirational, and, with our unemployment rate remaining stubbornly high at 10% — almost twice what it is in the UK — we still have a long way to go.

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