I am aware of the “Time to Go” report which Marian Harkin, MEP, launched on behalf of the National Youth Council earlier this year. This is a very useful piece of independent research on the phenomenon of emigration in Ireland today and outlines some of the positive and negative aspects of emigration amongst young people. The recommendations in the Report are, however, outside the direct remit of my Department.
The Government recognises that there has been an increase in emigration, particularly amongst young people, since the start of the recession. However, CSO data also indicates that significant numbers of Irish migrants have been returning to the country since 2008. For example, 20,600 Irish people returned to Ireland in 2012. These are people who had previously emigrated seeking work, and many of them are coming home having gained skills and expertise abroad that we can now capture to strengthen the operation and management of companies based here.
At a macro level, the Government’s strategy is to re-build the economy step by step so that we can provide opportunities for sustainable employment in Ireland based on enterprise, exports and innovation. We are doing this through the Action Plan for Jobs process and have seen a stabilisation in the labour market in recent months, with over 20,000 extra people at work in the first Quarter of 2013 compared to 2012.
As part of the Action Plan for Jobs, the Government has a range of initiatives in place to support young people looking for employment. These include programmes such as JobBridge, Springboard, Momentum and the ICT Action Plan, which are delivered by the Departments of Social Protection and Education and Skills. A recent independent evaluation of the JobBridge scheme conducted by Indecon found that 61% of interns progressed to paid employment after completing their internship.
My Department is also keen to support young entrepreneurs and, in this context, initiatives such as Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund and New Frontiers Programme, along with the Microenterprise Loan Fund, will all contribute to supporting young entrepreneurs. The Government will also publish a Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship, including youth entrepreneurship, this year. I have recently set up an Entrepreneurship Forum which will provide a key input in informing the Government’s Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship.