The Government has published its plans for 20,000 additional jobs in the manufacturing sector by 2016. The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, and the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn TD, published strategies prepared as part of the Action Plan for Jobs.
Last year Minister Bruton tasked a group led by industry experts with coming up with a plan to deliver on the Government’s target of 20,000 additional jobs in the sector. The strategies launched today, prepared by Forfás and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, are aimed at delivering on that ambition.
Key actions are proposed across a range of areas, including; access to new funding, management training and support, costs reduction and technology adoption.
Among the specific measures proposed are:
· A new Start-up Fund run by Enterprise Ireland specifically targeting supports for new manufacturing start-ups;
· Enterprise Ireland to introduce a new Capability Fund to support capital investment by manufacturing companies;
· EI and IDA to target additional financial supports for R&D investment specifically targeted at engineering firms;
· A new National Step Change Initiative available to all EI and IDA client companies that will systematically support manufacturing companies to
o expand their client base through staff training and Peer Learning,
o improve their adoption of new technologies and embrace R&D,
o accelerate collaboration between companies in similar sectors to generate greater efficiencies in areas like global sourcing,
· Proposals to maintain or reduce costs to manufacturing companies across areas like energy, waste, regulation, tax etc.
· Better targeting of training at skills shortages in the manufacturing sector through the implementation of the Manufacturing Skills study.
The plan will be implemented and monitored as part of the Action Plan for Jobs process, driven by the Department of the Taoiseach.
The Ministers made the announcement today at Prodieco, an Irish manufacturing company established in 1962 which in recent years adapted to changing trends and now exclusively supplies packaging to the pharmaceutical industry, employing 130 people.
Minister Bruton said:
“Despite a substantial decline over the past decade, manufacturing is a crucial sector employing over 200,000 people directly and a similar number indirectly. We in Government believe that the sector has substantial capacity for jobs growth, and that is why we decided two years ago to examine new ways of targeting support at manufacturing.
“The industry-led forum which we established to drive change in this sector has made real progress, and the strategy laid out today by Forfás shows that our Action Plan for Jobs target of 20,000 additional jobs in the sector by 2016 is achievable with the right supports from Government.
“Here in Prodieco we can see at first hand what is possible in this sector for companies who show willingness to change and pursue new opportunities for growth. I am determined to ensure that we implement change, support more companies to change and pursue new growth markets, and create the jobs we need”.
Minister Quinn said, “It is clear from the report we are publishing today that manufacturing remains a key employer in this country – but the needs of this sector like a lot of other sectors are evolving rapidly. In order to maximise opportunities for growth and attracting investment, we need to ensure our people are offered opportunities to upskill and reskill in order to have the relevant, quality skills needed to avail of current and future job opportunities in this sector.
“I am confident we can do this: Irish people are problem solvers, we are innovative, we are flexible and adaptable to change, combined with our technical expertise we can work in multi-disciplinary teams and with different cultures.
“The Forfas Strategy and complementary report from the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs set out clearly what we need to do in order to address the future skills challenges and the existing small but important number of skills gaps in the new era for manufacturing. . . Already my Department through the HEA, FAS and Skillnets are addressing some of these challenges through upskilling and reskilling conversion programmes such as, Springboard 2013 and Momentum. But, as the report identifies, we also need to show jobseekers, school-leavers and their parents clearly the job opportunities and career paths that still exist in manufacturing.”
Martin D. Shanahan, Chief Executive, Forfás commented, “Today, the manufacturing sector in Ireland employs 205,700 people directly, and as many people again indirectly. We need a continued and concerted effort to address the barriers to growth in manufacturing. The employment outlook for the sector depends critically on addressing domestic competitiveness factors and a favourable international trading environment. Companies are operating in an intensely competitive global arena and although Ireland’s cost competitiveness has improved over recent years, it is imperative that we continue to drive structural change and sustained improvements in our competitiveness. A further improvement in our cost competitiveness is required to assist the manufacturing sector to grow. Access to finance for Irish firms is continuously highlighted to us by companies as the number one issue.”