Govt Employment Strategy 'Stuck In A Rut' - SF

The government's current employment programme doesn't work, is "stuck in a rut" and is "overly reliant on workers leaving their existing jobs and emigrating", Sinn Féin's Seán Crowe has said.

The Dublin South West TD said that the latest employment figures from the Central Statistics Offices, reveals that "there is simply no meat on the bones of the employment strategy.

"Ireland continues to suffer a crisis of employment and unemployment. Despite all the talk of green shoots and a buoyant economic recovery by Government spokespeople, 343,100 were still signing on last month," he said.

"To put that number into context, it is twice the number of people who were signing on in January 2008. Hardly any reason to celebrate or rest on your achievements but seems to be the approach adopted.

"Hundreds of thousands of people want to work, but the lack of any realistic employment opportunities for the vast majority leaves them dependent on Social Welfare benefits. Families and individuals stuck in this situation are more likely to be disadvantaged, have poorer life chances, and their children are more likely to go hungry."

He continued: "The latest figures from the CSO relating to those in employment clearly shows that the Government's current employment programme is stalled and in a rut. The unemployment rate is stuck at 9.7% for the third month in a row.

"This is higher in many parts of my constituency in Dublin South West and they continue to suffer from some of the highest rates of unemployment and inter-generational joblessness in the State.

"One in five young people, a whopping 20% cannot find a job. That is a really disturbing figure that is clearly getting worse in recent months. This would be a major cause of concern in most countries but there doesn't appear to be any urgency coming from those responsible in this Government.

"Tánaiste Joan Burton has actually welcomed these figures and claimed they reflect the success of the government's efforts to create jobs and help people back to work.

"The Government are in denial, they actually believe their own propaganda, and having constantly promised hundreds of thousands of jobs, they now expect them to somehow magically materialise.

"The CSO's latest figures should be viewed with concern and act as an urgent wakeup call. The bulk of people on so-called 'job activation schemes' are also not being classified as unemployed and if they were added to the live register figures the actual broad jobless rate comes in in just under 20%.

"To fix this problem, the Government needs to recognise and admit that we have a two-tier economy. Economic activity is up in some regions, but growth has been negligible elsewhere.

"There is no meat on the bones of their employment strategy, nor is there any mention of any initiatives for areas like Dublin South West. The access for indigenous SMEs and micro-businesses to public procurement, particularly in the areas of goods and services which are worth around €9 billion annually to the domestic economy, has been raised time and time again with Government Ministers but very little is happening.

"The lack of commitment will be particularly disappointing to small retailers as currently that sector is losing 75% of the €6bn online sales each year to companies outside of Ireland.

"Every 1% of lost revenue Irish businesses win back boosts the local economy by roughly €40m yet the government has delivered no new proposals to increase online trading.

"When dealing with strategic state investment there is no new direction coming from Government. Many of us had hoped in vain that some of the promises like a significant increase in new social housing builds particularly in the Dublin area, where the crisis is worst, would get greater attention.

"New house builds would also create new jobs, reduce inequality, and stabilise house prices, but that doesn't seem to be factored into the governments thinking.

"Behind all the Ministerial smiles and promises, the unemployed are being left with no real prospect of a job and only an early election is giving many of them hope for a new beginning."


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