Written Answers. - Labour Shortage.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

53 Mr. O'Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the estimated labour needs of this country until the year 2010; the estimated labour pool available; the steps which are being taken to meet the labour shortage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7113/01]

Brendan McGahon

Question:

87 Mr. McGahon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in view of a recent survey (details supplied), she will outline the steps she proposes to take to deal with the issue of shortages of labour. [6998/01]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 87 together.

The Department of Finance in its Stability Programme, published on budget day in December 2000, predicted a further tightening of the labour market, with forecast employment growth of 3.5%, 2.1% and 1.8%, respectively, in the years 2001 to 2003, equivalent to an additional 60,000 persons at work in 2001, 37,000 in 2002 and 33,000 in 2003, average annual growth of 2.25% in the labour force over the next three years and a further fall in the unemployment rate to 3.2% in the years 2001 to 2003.
The Government has in place a comprehensive strategy to meet the labour market challenges faced by a growing economy. Key elements in the overall policy mix include: fiscal measures aimed at enhancing the attractiveness to take-up a job and remain in work; active labour market programmes to assist those currently unemployed and the disadvantaged in their transition to employment; enhanced placement of job seekers; full implementation of the preventive strategy which comprises early and systematic engagement with unemployed, as notified under the Employment Action Plan; measures aimed at upgrading the skills of those at work and unemployed; and enhanced child care.
The range and scale of our interventions will continue to facilitate enhanced labour force growth and especially encourage increased participation of females in the labour market. This strategic approach aimed at mobilising fully domestic labour supply is being augmented with measures aimed at attracting immigrants to our growing economy. Net outward migration of the early 1990s has been replaced with net inflows, of the order of 20,000 per annum over the last three years of whom approximately 80% are from EU member states or returned Irish emigrants. More than 18,000 work permits were issued last year to non-EEA nationals. In addition, the implementation in April 2000 of the new working visa or authorisation system of which 1,387 were granted up to the end of December 2000, combined with substantial initiatives being implemented by FÁS, including Jobs Ireland, all represent important measures aimed at tapping into additional sources of labour supply.
I am satisfied the Government currently has a comprehensive strategy in place with a full policy mix which will maximise labour supply consistent with the demands of a growing economy.
Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 39.