•High business costs and social welfare system slowing down recovery.
•True unemployment figures masked by increased youth emigration.
•Increase in long-term unemployed a major worry.
•Reduction in costs is only sure way to increase employment.
ISME, Wednesday 2nd May 2012.
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, while welcoming the slight reduction in unemployment, has called on the Government to address the uncompetitive business costs and generous social welfare benefits in the battle to maintain and create jobs in the SME sector. Comparable costs and social assistance in our competitors are creating an advantage for them in our markets and constraining recovery in Ireland.
The latest standardised unemployment rate from the CSO shows an unchanged 14.3%. The seasonally adjusted live register figures confirm that 436,000 people are claiming assistance, down on the corresponding period last year, however the number of long term claimants has increased by 8.6% or 14,633.
According to ISME Chief Executive, Mark Fielding, “the slight reduction in the headline unemployment figures masks the true level of unemployment which is under-reported through increased emigration, increased participation on state training initiatives and a significant rise in individuals remaining in education. The true picture in the jobs market is that well over half a million of our citizens are out of work”.
“We require clear and targeted pro-enterprise policies to address the business concerns, including cost competitiveness, access to finance, late payments and red tape. Then the labour intensive SME sector will have the confidence to start investing and creating employment.”
ISME’s solution to the unemployment situation includes;
•A full benchmark and overhaul of all government influenced business costs with a target of a reduction to below the EU average for all.
•A full review of labour market inhibitors to include the implementation of a reduction in state assistance for those who refuse job offers.
•A greater incentive for small business to compensate for the cost of on-the-job training.
•A revisiting of the Croke Park agreement in light of current changed circumstances.
“The reality is that, after a year in power, this Government has promised a lot but delivered little. They must first realise that a complete overhaul of our competitiveness is where the real work has to be done. The drive must be to reduce state costs while the private sector increases productivity. SME job creation will then follow,” concluded Fielding.
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