Dáil Éireann - Volume 526 - 22 November, 2000
Written Answers. - Skill Shortages.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
80. Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has satisfied herself that there are sufficient personnel available in the workforce to ensure adequate and continued growth in the economy and the ability to meet ongoing and increasing demands in respect of various services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26768/00]
Mr. Kenny Mr. Kenny
99. Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the impact which skills shortages will have on delivering the national development plan; her views on whether these issues can be resolved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26665/00]
Ms Clune Ms Clune
105. Ms Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures she has introduced in the past 12 months to resolve staff shortages which are being experienced by industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26670/00]
Mr. U. Burke Mr. U. Burke
169. Mr. U. Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the plans she has to resolve the staff shortages experienced by small businesses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26672/00]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 80, 99, 105 and 169 together.
Skills and labour shortages, if left unaddressed, will pose a serious threat to our continued economic success. The Government has, however, a wide range of strategies and polices in place to meet the challenges posed. There are many facets to the policy mix being pursued.
Reducing the tax burden on labour and improving the reward from work is a major fea ture of the strategy aimed at improving the incentive to seek, take-up and remain in work. Ensuring that a large majority of taxpayers are subject to no more than the standard rate of tax and removing low-paid from the tax net altogether, combined with fundamental reform of the tax system with the implementation of a tax credit system, all act as a substantial encouragement to return to or remain in work for many groups including, new recruits, the unemployed, and persons outside the labour market who would wish to return. This Government has been actively involved in significantly reducing both the standard and marginal tax rates which act to make the country more attractive to highly skilled workers.
This strategic approach is being complimented with a wide variety of measures aimed at both increasing the labour supply and upgrading the skills of the workforce as notified in the Employment Action Plan 2000. Key measures include systematic and early intervention with the unemployed with an offer of an employability support; a continuation in the provision of a wide range and scale of labour market programmes to help the long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged groups re-integrate into the open labour market; increases in the supply of education and training places to meet identified and emergent skills shortages; continuing investment in the apprenticeship system to meet the increasing demand for training; and, as part of the comprehensive approach aimed at increasing female labour force participation, funding for child care has been substantially increased as notified in the national development plan.
As part of the overall strategic goal of enhancing the skills in the economy, a task force on lifelong learning has been established and is considering measures to improve access to learning and upskilling opportunities and aims to bring proposals to Government early next year. In addition, I have recently published the National Training Fund Bill, 2000. This Bill provides for the establishment of the national training fund which will play a key role in helping people acquire skills which will enhance their employability.
In addition, to augment domestic labour supply, there are a range of policies and programmes in place to attract persons from outside the State into the domestic labour force. Net inward migration into the State has increased significantly in recent years in response to the exceptional growth of the economy. More recently, I have revamped the operation of the work permits scheme. As a result there was 15,391 permits issued as of 21 November 2000 in comparison to 6,258 permits in 1999. This has been supplemented with the implementation this year of the working visa system to facilitate the recruitment of suitably qualified persons for designated sectors where skills shortages are particularly acute.
Dáil Éireann 526 Written Answers. Skill Shortages.