Live Register Numbers

Questions (32)

Martin Ferris

Question:

32. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the impact of jobs policy on the number of young persons employed when the Government came to power and the most recent quarterly household figures. [33504/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

In the three years prior to the Government coming into office, over 300,000 people had lost their jobs, including 145,000 people under the age of 25. By comparison, in the last two years, there has been a significant slow-down in the decline in the number of young people at work. Recent labour market figures published by the CSO indicate that the number of people under 25 years of age in employment decreased by 4,000 in the year between Quarter 1 2012 and Quarter 1 2013. The number of unemployed people under 25 years of age fell by 10,000 in the twelve month period to Quarter 1 2013, while the unemployment rate for young people fell from 29.7% to 26.6% over the same period. This downward movement in youth unemployment in Ireland differs from the trend in the EU as a whole, where youth unemployment has continued to rise. However, youth unemployment continues to present a major challenge for Ireland as it does for most other Member States.

The work which the Government is doing through the Action Plan for Jobs aims to transform our economy from one that became over-dependent on property, construction and debt, to one focused on enterprise, innovation and exports. The Action Plan is focussed on sustaining and creating employment for all, including young people. There are a range of initiatives in place under the Action Plan and Pathways to Work 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 Economic Consultants found that 61% of interns progressed to paid employment after completing their internship. These progression outcomes are among the best in Europe for similar schemes.

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, later this year.

Job Creation Issues

Questions (33)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

33. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on the way employment levels in the call centre industry can be protected and enhanced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33571/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The customer contact industry continues to be an invaluable source of employment creation from multinational companies locating in Ireland across a range of industry sectors including finance, IT, life sciences and e-commerce. As an increasingly important component in the way companies differentiate themselves, the customer contact centre has evolved into a multi-functional, multi-lingual environment, which adapts new digital technologies at an early stage to service a global customer base.

According to the Contact Centre Management Association of Ireland (CCMA) who published the findings of its research into the role of contact centres throughout Ireland in 2011, the sector employs more than 29,000 people, with a spread of over 100 contact centre operations nationwide. The CCMA findings show very positive results against the backdrop of a challenging economic climate and emphasise a focus on growth and business retention within the sector.

IDA Ireland continues to seek to attract customer support companies to locate in Ireland as part of its overall strategy to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). This strategy has proven to be successful and Ireland is now home to a broad range of companies based in different industries servicing multiple markets. Examples of such companies include, Google, Facebook, Lufthansa, Cook Medical, Hertz, EMC, Merrill Lynch, EA Games and Riot Games. Recent announcements by Paypal and Zenimax further endorse the successful strategy being pursued by IDA Ireland.

The Irish owned Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, which is a sub sector of the services industry and involves the provision and management of non core processes and services by third parties under contract, grew out of customer management activities. This sector is now growing through the provision of specialist services to meet specific market needs in regulated and compliance driven sectors, including finance and administration, HR services and Public Sector outsourcing. Within customer management, the Irish sector is developing a strong position in the multilingual sub-sector. There are over 6,000 people employed in Enterprise Ireland supported companies who had total sales and exports of over €180m and €60m, respectively in 2012. Growth in the past 3 years has been driven by Irish companies supplying multi-lingual tech and financial services support to the overseas divisions of multinationals and growth in services to the Irish banking and public sectors.

The Irish BPO sector provides significant opportunities to both maintain and expand employment based on securing business opportunities, both domestically and in export markets. Enterprise Ireland is working with client companies to identify and pursue opportunities identified in the public sector and with the base of multinational companies operating in Ireland. The Agency is also supporting clients to access export markets, specifically the UK, in specialised niche market sectors such as the public sector, insurance and other financial services.

Enterprise Ireland is working with BPO Companies to:

- Develop technology platforms, specifically in the areas of Cloud Computing and Data Analytics, which are currently the two main drivers of technological change in the global BPO market.

- Ensure that they can compete in key areas such as sales and marketing, data analytics and advisory capacity.

- Assist them in building the best management teams and service innovation capability in the industry.

- Given Ireland’s strengths in terms of technology, skills and existing base of companies, to continue to develop our offering in terms of knowledge intensive services. These services require high levels of expertise in the industries they service combined with sophisticated customer interaction and decision making.

- Support a cluster development project for 13 BPO companies to investigate the potential opportunity in overseas markets.

In accordance with the Action Plan for Jobs 2013, Enterprise Ireland and IDA are committed to working together to put in place a joint strategy to further establish Ireland as the best location in Europe from which to deliver complex, added value services. The vision for the Irish owned sector is to have a competitive BPO sector with companies of international scale which will result in continued increased employment growth in Ireland.

Job Creation Numbers

Questions (34)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

34. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the effect of the return to recession on the jobs numbers and job creation numbers. [33503/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The most recent Quarterly National Accounts published by the Central Statistics Office on 27 June indicate that for the first Quarter of this year, Ireland’s GDP declined by 0.6% compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. This follows on from contractions in the last two quarters of 2012. The contraction in GDP in the first quarter of 2013 is attributable to the fall in consumer spending and a decline in exports due to the impact of a weak global economy.

However, these figures should not be seen in isolation. Gross National Product increased by 2.9% in the first quarter of the year. It should also be noted that the most recent trade figures published by the CSO show that the value of goods exported recovered in April 2013 and were up 6% on the same month in 2012. Meanwhile, the volume of retail sales increased modestly in May. Despite the contraction in GDP, we have seen an annual increase of 20,500 in the number of people in employment to Quarter 1 2013, with employment growth on a seasonally adjusted basis up by 23,700 in the last three quarters.

The unemployment rate decreased from 15% in the first quarter of 2012 to 13.7% in the first quarter of 2013 – the first time the unemployment rate has fallen below 14% for some years. The Government will continue to build on this progress through the Action Plan for Jobs, as we transform the economy from one based on unsustainable debt to one based on enterprise, innovation and exports.

Job Creation Targets

Questions (35)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

35. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the actions of his Department or agencies to meet with emigrants and encourage them to return to work. [33501/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

At a macro level the Government’s strategy is to re-build the economy and accelerate the transition to a sustainable, jobs-rich economy based on enterprise, innovation and exports. It is in this way that we will create the environment in which sustainable jobs will be created, living standards will be raised and Ireland will be regarded as an attractive location in which to live and work.

More specifically, engaging with the Diaspora to strengthen and form new relationships is a particular Government priority underpinned by the Global Irish Economic Forum. For example, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland’s Senior Management team are focusing on the roll-out of a number of joint initiatives, including marketing and events aimed at attracting entrepreneurs and start-ups to Ireland, and ongoing engagement with Irish emigrants through the Global Irish Network.IDA Ireland engages with the Irish Diaspora working in multinational companies in its role to attract new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Ireland and to build on the existing FDI base to support Irish management to win new business. The ability of the investor to source the very best quality people, with appropriate levels of training and experience, is a prime consideration and a real location differentiator. Attracting skilled Irish emigrants back to Ireland is an important component in creating this skill base. The “Succeed in Ireland” initiative to attract greater numbers of inward investors to Ireland provides direct financial incentives to people around the world to create employment in Ireland by rewarding people responsible for bringing sustainable jobs to Ireland.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) also plays a significant role in forging linkages with Ireland’s Diaspora. Under the Action Plan for Jobs 2012, EI initiatives included the establishment of a €10m International Start-up Fund and a targeted marketing campaign making greater use of existing networks in the IDA and the wider Diaspora. In 2012, twelve overseas entrepreneurs were supported by Enterprise Ireland to establish their companies here. This campaign is continuing in 2013. Enterprise Ireland is also involved in the establishment of a website www.itshappeninghere.ie which features opportunities in Irish SMEs in the ICT sector and allows our Diaspora a full view of the potential opportunities for employment and advancement.

The Government recognises that there has been an increase in emigration, particularly amongst young people, since the start of the recession. However, the 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.

While there will always be people who choose to emigrate for personal or professional reasons, the Government’s aim is that, by continuing the process of transforming our economy step by step through the Action Plan for Jobs, we can provide opportunities for employment in Ireland.

Non-Resident Companies

Questions (36, 50)

Brian Stanley

Question:

36. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Irish registered non-resident companies in the State. [33506/13]

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Brian Stanley

Question:

50. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his plans to monitor the actions of Irish registered non-resident companies in the State. [33507/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 36 and 50 together.

I refer the Deputy to my response to Question 115 of 30 May 2013 in which I indicated that I understood from my colleague, the Minister for Finance, that he has been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of companies that are incorporated here but non-resident for tax purposes is not available as they are not separately compiled. Therefore, it is not possible to provide the information requested.

As indicated in my reply to Questions Nos. 116 to 118, inclusive, of 30 May 2013, significant measures were taken in response to concerns in the 1990s regarding Irish Registered Non-resident companies. These can be found at sections 42-51 of the Companies (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1999 as amended.

The relevant measures placed the following obligations on companies wishing to incorporate in Ireland:

Firstly, as a precondition of incorporation, every application for registration is required to demonstrate that the proposed company intends to carry on an activity in the State.

Secondly, the Act requires that every company registered in the State is required to have and maintain at least one director that is resident in the European Economic Area or the company must hold a bond to the value of €25,394.76.

The requirement for either a bond or an EEA resident director does not apply if the company obtains from the Registrar of Companies a certificate that the company has a real and continuous link with one or more economic activities in the state. The company concerned must provide proof of such a link. A statement from the Revenue Commissioners that it has reasonable grounds to believe that the company has such a link is deemed proof of a link under the Act.

Additionally the number of directorships which can be held by one person was limited to 25 (subject to certain exemptions). Finally, the Act contained enhanced strike-off provisions and enhanced notification to the Companies Registration Office where directors have resigned. The Companies Bill 2012 contains similar provisions to sections 42-51 of the Companies (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1999 as amended.

Job Creation Numbers

Questions (37)

Mick Wallace

Question:

37. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of jobs that were created here as a result of Presidency initiatives, during Ireland's Presidency of the EU Council; the number of Presidency initiatives that created jobs for young persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33545/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

My Department has played a central role in driving the overarching policy theme of our EU Presidency of “promoting sustainable economic growth and jobs and building Europe’s competitive advantage”. The issue of employment creation is one that is challenging all Member States across the Union. Under our Presidency we have made progress in a significant number of areas that can create the right environment for growth and employment in accordance with the “Compact for growth and jobs” as agreed by Heads of State and Government in June 2012.

I placed a strong emphasis on advancing measures that can boost the EU’s competitive edge globally. Overall, our Presidency achieved major successes across the policy spectrum and has significantly enhanced the reputation of this country at home and abroad. Our good standing and reputation is a vital ingredient in making this country attractive to investors and for instilling confidence leading ultimately to jobs and growth. This will assist us in building on the average of 2,000 jobs per month created in the private sector over the last twelve months in contrast to the loss of 7,500 jobs per month during the years 2008-2010.

Within the various Council formations which I had the honour to chair, we succeeded in attaining agreements on all of the significant funding Programmes under the EU’s new 2014-2020 Budget, itself agreed during our Presidency. For example, on the agreement on the new €70 Billion research and development Programme, Horizon 2020, Ireland argued strongly, and successfully, in favour of a greater emphasis on the SME sector. In addition to new specific supports, such as access to finance and debt and equity facilities, for SMEs, it has now been agreed that the target for SME participation in relevant areas of Horizon 2020 should be increased from 15% to 20%. This is a significant change given the proposed scale of Horizon 2020. In line with the Action Plan for Jobs we will pursue funding and other opportunities under EU Horizon 2020 for specific sectoral activities of national importance and in line with our national research priorities.

Agreement was also achieved on the €2.03 Billion dedicated Programme for Competitiveness and SMEs (COSME Programme) which will provide targeted financial support for SMEs. In particular, I welcome the proposed equity facility for growth-phase investment which will support the development of the EU wide Venture Capital market, as well as the Loan Facility which will provide direct or other risk sharing arrangements with financial intermediaries to cover loans for SMEs. We also built on the progress already made in reducing business costs by the administrative burden reduction efforts of the Commission and Member States. At the end of 2012 annual administrative savings totalling almost €288 million representing a 19% reduction have been achieved for business in Ireland as against 2008.

Proposals on State Aid Modernisation (SAM) were also agreed. These new State Aid Regulations will take account of post-crisis structural reforms and industrial restructuring which Member States are undergoing and the need for better alignment of State Aid with Europe 2020 objectives.

A number of important files which were vital to completing the EU Single Market were also agreed or significantly advanced, including those on recognition of Professional Qualifications, Public Procurement, and the Accounting Directive. Agreement on these will make it easier to move and work across all Member States and to lower transaction costs for SMEs.

In the area of Patents, remarkable progress was made to complete the Single Market in that sector with the signing of an International Agreement on a Unified Patent Court by 25 participating Member States during the Competitiveness Council on 19th February last. It has been estimated that users of the Unified Patent Court could save somewhere between €148 and €289 million per year, compared to the present costs of €1.5 million in some Member States of such litigation.

Agreement was reached at the EPSCO Council on the Youth Guarantee, which promises to provide young people with a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed. In addition, the European Council approved a Youth Employment Initiative amounting to €6 billion for the period 2014-2020 to support measures aimed at addressing youth unemployment and, in particular, to support the Youth Guarantee for regions with particularly high levels of unemployment. Furthermore, political agreement was reached on the EU programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) with a proposed budget of €815 million for the period 2014-20 period. EaSI will support Member States efforts in the design and implementation of employment and social reforms by means of policy coordination, identification, analysis and the sharing of best practice.

Under Ireland’s Presidency of the EU, we attached great importance to promoting the EU’s external trade agenda for the benefit of Irish companies and for the wider EU economy and its exporters. Trade is essential to job creation: 30 million jobs or 10% of the EU workforce depend on exports. In June, we reached agreement among EU Trade Ministers on the mandate to start talks on an EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Reaching agreement among EU Trade Ministers on the terms of the EU’s negotiating mandate has been a top priority for the Irish Presidency. According to assessments made by the EU Commission and other European bodies, a comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S and the EU could over time boost EU GDP by 0.5% per annum and help create approximately 400,000 jobs in the EU. Based on those assessments, if Ireland simply benefitted in proportion to the size of our economy, a comprehensive trade and investment partnership could over time provide gains to Ireland in the order of €800 million per annum in increased GDP, and 4000 new jobs.

Research and Development Funding

Questions (38, 47)

Áine Collins

Question:

38. Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the amount in euros currently being spent on research and development as a percentage of Ireland's GDP. [33275/13]

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Áine Collins

Question:

47. Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the way in which he intends to reach the required spend on research and development of 3% of GDP under Horizon 2020; and the measures being put in place to ensure that this target is reached. [33276/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 38 and 47 together.

I assume the Deputy is referring to Ireland’s research intensity target under the Europe 2020 Strategy which is to improve the conditions for research and development, in particular with the aim of raising combined public and private investment levels in this sector to 2.5% of GNP (approximately equivalent to 2.0% of GDP). The latest available data show that the research intensity rate for 2012 is estimated at 2.11% of GNP (1.71% of GDP). The estimated research intensity rate for 2013 is 2.16% of GNP (1.73% of GDP). This is encouraging against the backdrop of the economic and fiscal situation and I believe that we are on track to achieve the research intensity target by 2020. Ireland's National Reform Programme update for 2013 submitted by the Government to the European Commission in April reflects this projection.

The Government’s strategy has been to put in place a range of initiatives with the overarching aim of accelerating both the economic and societal return on our public investment in Science, Technology and Innovation. A number of initiatives are also in place designed to encourage more private investment in R&D. Specific initiatives include:

- Research Prioritisation which is being implemented on an all of Government basis targeting the majority of competitive public STI investment in the 14 areas which are most likely to deliver economic and societal returns, particularly in the form of jobs – support is also being targeted at relevant underpinning technologies as well as related infrastructure.

- An Intellectual Property Protocol is now in place which gives more clarity and certainty around ownership of IP emerging from state funded research – this will facilitate greater transfer of ideas to market. A key element of this – establishing a Central Technology Transfer Office – is in the final stages of completion.

- The remit of Science Foundation Ireland is being expanded to cover applied research, aligned with the 14 priority areas to further support the development of research findings into commercial opportunities.

- In July last year the Government agreed targets for enterprise participation in publicly funded research to drive behaviour of research funders to encourage more collaboration with enterprise.

- In late February this year the largest ever state and industry co-funded research investment in Ireland was announced – SFI’s research centres awards includes overall investment of €300million with two thirds coming from the exchequer and one third from industry (cash and in-kind support) involving over 150 industry partners in 7 centres over a 6 year period.

- The latest business expenditure figures are very encouraging showing an increase from €1.83bn in 2010 to €1.86bn in 2011 with estimates of a further increase to €2bn for 2012.

Emigration Data

Questions (39)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

39. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will consider responding to the findings of the National Youth Council report on emigration; their effect on the labour force and detailing the steps taken by his Department to stem the tide of emigration and actions taken to encourage the return of emigrants. [33500/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

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.

Job Creation Issues

Questions (40)

John Browne

Question:

40. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the way he believes crowd funding of enterprise can be supported and encouraged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33582/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Crowdfunding, in respect of enterprise and other activities, is becoming an ever more popular alternative financial mechanism for businesses and promoters across the globe to access finance in a difficult financial market. In its various forms, crowdfunding allows individuals, businesses and promoters to solicit capital from funders, using social networks and crowdfunding platforms to finance projects. It appears to be affording real opportunities in the area of alternative finance for SMEs. Use of the mechanism appears to have seen substantial growth globally in the recent past and it is seen by many sponsors as a means of “democratising” access to funds and supply of capital and moving the model away from venture capitalists and angel investors.

However, crowdfunding is in its infancy and financial returns on capital will dictate its overall success. Data is not yet readily available domestically, at EU level or internationally with which to analyse its impact to date, although moves are afoot at EU level to consider methods to address this data deficiency.

As the industry needs time to “find itself” and should not be over burdened by regulation before the required platforms have been given the time to grow and develop, I am keeping the issue under review as to how best to utilise its benefits to promote business development. It is certainly too early to provide a specific regulatory mechanism for the concept, but my officials will continue to monitor the issue in collaboration with all other key stakeholders in this matter. As set out in the Action Plan for Jobs 2013, we have committed to investigate the potential for alternative funding mechanisms including peer to peer lending, supply chain finance and crowdfunding.

I am also aware that crowdfunding is being discussed seriously within the European institutions and the OECD as an alternative source of SME financing. Ireland will continue to actively engage with the relevant Institutions in these deliberations and is fully committed to providing an appropriate policy response with regard to the emerging need to establish a European framework and ecosystem for best practices.

In view of the early stage of development of this concept, my Department would of course welcome any stakeholder views on how to optimise the potential of this developing phenomenon for securing additional finance for business growth and jobs.

Job Creation Numbers

Questions (41)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

41. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the timeline for the establishment of the synthesis and solid state pharmaceutical centre at the University of Limerick; the number of research jobs it will support; the target number of jobs it will ultimately lead to in the pharmaceutical sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33580/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC) at the University of Limerick was officially launched on 1 July 2013. The total funding to the SSPC, through the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres programme amounts to €40m to directly support 90 top-class researcher positions for the next six years. The SSPC will provide critical support to Ireland’s pharmaceutical sector which directly employs over 60,000 people with exports of €50 billion annually. The SSPC research excellence will greatly assist IDA Ireland’s foreign direct investment capability and also strongly underpin many indigenous firms.

A critical industry concern currently relates to retention of the economic value of important drugs, many of which will soon lose their patent protection. Seventeen industry partners are contributing €10m towards the SSPC’s activities. They include very significant employers here such as Pfizer, Glaxo Smith Kline, Eli Lilly, Merck, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Roche, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Clarochem Ireland, and Abbvie amongst others.

International Agreements

Questions (42)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

42. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will confirm that he intends to ratify International Labour Organisation convention 189 on domestic workers; and the timescale for its ratification. [33514/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I welcomed the adoption of the Decent Work for Domestic Workers Convention and Recommendation at the 2011 International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organisation. I recently attended this year’s International Labour Conference in Geneva and chaired an Informal Ministerial on the subject of Domestic Workers. Also as part of Ireland’s Presidency I ensured the conclusion of a Council Decision which authorises EU Member States to ratify the Convention. The European Parliament must now consent to the Council Decision and the timeframe for this depends on European Parliament procedures. However I understand Parliament will decide by November of this year. If as expected, Parliament consents to the Council Decision, I can move forward with the ratification process.

In tandem with this work at EU level, at National level my officials have carried out an assessment of the implications of ratifying the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 189 on Domestic Workers. The Attorney General has also confirmed to me that there are no legal obstacles to Ireland’s ratification of the Domestic Workers Convention. It is important to note, that domestic workers are protected by virtue of the fact that the full suite of employment rights legislation, including that of redress for violations of their employment rights, apply to domestic workers in the same way as they apply to other categories of employees in Ireland. Also it is worth pointing out that NERA has carried out a programme of inspections involving Domestic Workers as well as continuing to respond to any complaints it receives from Domestic Workers.

A voluntary Code of Practice for Persons Employed in Other People’s Homes was developed under the Industrial Relations Act 1990. The Code sets out certain employment rights and practices for persons employed in other people’s homes and encourages good practice and compliance with the law in such employment situations. In any proceedings before a court, or a workplace relations dispute resolution body, a code of practice shall be admissible in evidence and any provision of the code which appears to the court, body or officer concerned to be relevant to any question arising in the proceedings shall be taken into account in determining that question.

Credit Guarantee Scheme Applications

Questions (43)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

43. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the target for drawing down from the mircoenterprise loan fund and the credit guarantee scheme for the coming year. [33510/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

When I introduced both these schemes to the House this time last year I clearly indicated that the take-up of both schemes is dependent on SME customer demand levels. The annual value of potential demand from SMEs is very difficult to assess. This makes the setting of an upper limit of annual lending capacity which ought to be made available via Schemes difficult to set precisely. From the outset, I have emphasised that the figures used are estimated and that the exact requirements could be lower or higher depending on SME credit demand needs and economic conditions over the duration of the Schemes. The figures quoted are most definitely not targets for the Schemes and there will be no specific targets set for the schemes for the coming year as they will remain demand led schemes.

The Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) can facilitate up to €150m of additional lending per annum. When the Scheme was launched in October 2012, I made a commitment to review the Scheme after 12 months of operation. However, due to the low level of utilisation of the Scheme, I have brought forward the review process to examine ways to improve future performance and take-up. An external consultant will be selected very shortly to commence the formal review of the Scheme which I intend will be concluded by end quarter 3 2013. Any changes to legislation arising from the review will take place after that date.

In relation to MFI and based on the existing business model, Microfinance Ireland (MFI) can support up to €8.8m of lending to microenterprises per annum. The key challenge for MFI is to ensure that people are aware that there is support for new and existing viable micro enterprises with perceived or real higher trading risk that have been refused credit by banks. In that regard MFI has been engaged with key influencers across the country to get that message across. There will be on-going promotional and awareness activities to ensure that awareness of the scheme is promoted to its full potential amongst relevant micro business groups across all sectors of business.

IFSC Clearing House Group

Questions (44)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

44. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on the working of the IFSC clearing house group; the potential for increased employment in the IFSC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33568/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The IFSC Clearing House Group has a critical role to play in bringing together high level representatives from the public and private sectors to debate and address issues facing the competiveness of the international financial services industry. It is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach. That Department also services the meetings and publishes the minutes of these meetings on its website.

The Secretary General of my Department and senior representatives of the IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland – both of whom have a role in promoting the sector in the international arena - are among the public sector representatives on the Group. Their key objective is to ensure our industrial promotional policies and activities assist in maximising the employment creation potential of this growing international sector.

Given its critical role and the dynamic environment in which this sector operates, the Department of the Taoiseach recently invited a small public/private sector team to discussions about the workings of the Clearing House Group and to examine how best to maximise the potential of the sector. The Secretary General of my Department and the CEO of IDA Ireland are among the public sector members of this team, which I understand is to have its first meeting shortly.

With some 33,000 jobs, the international financial services sector is already a significant employer in Ireland. The 5 year Strategy for the sector launched by the Taoiseach in 2011, targeted an increase of 10,000 jobs in IFSC companies by 2016. The Action Plan for Jobs 2013 reaffirms Government’s commitment to this objective. Good progress has been made already with more than 65 new investments over the period January 2011 to date in 2013 with associated employment potential (gross jobs) of approximately 6,000.

These investments are significant achievements in view of the global crisis that has impacted the industry over the last two years and highlight Ireland’s on-going attractiveness for investment and the Government’s on-going commitment to the development of the sector.

County and City Enterprise Boards Abolition

Questions (45)

Niall Collins

Question:

45. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will reconsider plans to dissolve the county enterprise boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33554/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Micro and small businesses are the engine of the Irish economy employing over 650,000 people. A key part of the Government’s plans for jobs and growth is ensuring that we deliver a truly world-class service for this sector. The purpose of restructuring the current model for the delivery of State supports to that sector is to rejuvenate and enhance the national model so as to ensure that the micro and small business sector is properly positioned to be a lead player in relation to job creation and to the economic recovery process.

The new Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) will draw and build on the successful County Enterprise Board (CEB) model which has supported over 33,000 jobs across the country since 1993, as well as 900 new projects per annum and almost 25,000 training participants per annum. The enhanced model is designed to harness the best elements of the enterprise agencies and local government and to support local business and contribute to local development. For the first time, the skills, experience and resources of Enterprise Ireland, the CEBs and the Local Authorities will be combined in a structured and coherent manner to benefit micro and small businesses. The LEOs will be the first-stop-shop through which all information on State supports for small and micro businesses can be accessed and where businesses with clear high growth potential can be fast-tracked to the next level of support from EI.

As part of the reform process, the CEBs will be dissolved and their functions, assets and liabilities transferred to Enterprise Ireland to be delivered by the LEO in each Local Authority area under a robust Service Level Agreement (SLA) between Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities. The SLA will set out robust Performance Indicators measuring employment, start-ups and other metrics. A key element of new structure will be the consistent application of policy across all LEOs from the evaluation of applications to the spending of budgets allocated. This will be monitored using the agreed SLA in each Local Authority. The on-going drawdown of budgets by LEOs will be contingent on them reaching agreed targets.

Minister Perry and I have consulted widely in the context of this proposed reform and we view the restructuring of the supports as an important opportunity to get a combined effort in behind start-ups and small business and we shall vigorously work to harness the potential of the new model.