Dáil Éireann - Volume 598 - 24 February, 2005
Written Answers. - Job Creation.
Mr. Stagg Mr. Stagg
81. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the recent call from ICTU for a major initiative to salvage manufacturing jobs following the major series of job losses announced during January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6170/05]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin:In the past few years Irish manufacturing firms, particularly in the more traditional sectors, have operated against a backdrop of significantly declining external demand, downward price pressure, and an increasingly competitive international environment — China, central and eastern Europe — together with upward pressure on costs and the strengthening of the euro against our key trading partner currencies. In an increasingly globalised economy lower skilled manufacturing type operations are migrating to lower wage economies. The replacement of the inevitable job losses is a tough challenge.
My Department is working closely with the development agencies and industry to address this issue and seeks to support new and existing firms at all stages of business development and in a balanced regional manner.
During 2005, the 35 city and county enterprise boards will continue to actively co-operate with both the south and east and Border, midlands and west regional assemblies in developing indigenous micro-enterprises throughout the regions. The boards provide a comprehensive system of  capital and employment grants, support, mentoring, and training and development initiatives for new and existing micro-enterprises.
Enterprise Ireland, the agency which has prime responsibility for supporting indigenous industry, provides funding for innovation development, upskilling within client companies and developing export opportunities in overseas markets. In addition, the agency provides advice and referrals for clients to improve their competitive position.
Enterprise Ireland’s competitiveness fund was set up to help small and medium enterprises, SMEs, overcome distinctive competitiveness difficulties. Under this fund, which closed in mid-2004, 97 applications, to the value of just under €12 million, were approved for companies predominantly operating in the traditional manufacturing sectors. The total investments forecast in these firms as a result of Enterprise Ireland investments will amount to over €41 million over a two year period. This investment, together with other Enterprise Ireland supports and services, has revitalised many firms in these sectors, ensuring continued commitment to employment and sales in the Irish economy.
IDA Ireland is the agency charged with attracting foreign direct investment to this country. In its end of year statement for 2004, IDA Ireland has stated that manufacturing remains at the heart of overseas investment in the Irish economy. However, the quality of these investments and the types of jobs have changed considerably in recent years. In order to achieve a continuing high level of FDI and of investment from existing clients, IDA Ireland is concentrating more resources on helping to underpin the competitiveness of existing overseas companies in Ireland, by encouraging existing clients to move up the value chain into higher value products and services and into higher order functions, such as R & D. It seeks out niches of business in which Ireland can carve out world market leadership in a medium term.
I am confident that the strategies and policies being pursued by the development agencies, together with the ongoing commitment of Government to regional development will bear fruit in terms of additional sustainable investment and jobs for the people of this country.
Question No. 82 answered with Question No. 35.
Dáil Éireann 598 Written Answers. Job Creation.