Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Ceisteanna (85)

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

156 Mr. Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created in indigenous enterprises in each of the past five years; the number lost in the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3765/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Enterprise)

The following table sets out the trend in job creation and employment loss in indigenous companies, supported by the main development agencies. The data is based on data collected by Forfás and updated by the relevant agencies in the light of new information available to them.

Year

Job Gains

Job Losses

1999

16,569

10,692

2000

20,197

11,251

2001

15,071

14,235

2002

15,485

17,272

2003

12,905

16,076

Agencies: Enterprise Ireland, Shannon Development, Údarás na Gaeltachta.

While the 2003 figure represents a drop in the rate of job creation in comparison with the previous year, nonetheless this is a creditable achievement in the context of difficult economic conditions. These employment gains, however, were outweighed by losses of just over 16,000 jobs in agency-assisted companies last year, as slower economic growth and a more competitive marketplace made it much more difficult to do business than for many years.

The sustainability of employment levels in indigenous companies is heavily tied to competitiveness in terms of delivering products and services both in Ireland and to export markets. In the past few years, conditions in the global economy have been difficult, and Irish firms have had to win business against a backdrop of declining external demand, pricing pressures, and an increasingly competitive international environment.

Agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and Shannon Development have been working closely with their enterprise clients to help minimise the negative impact of these factors by providing a range of supports including help with research and development, improving competitiveness, opening new markets and expanding the existing export base. We will be unstinting in helping firms expand employment and develop more profitable sales.

Strategies for creating and sustaining indigenous enterprise include: Supporting in-company applied research and development; encouraging an increasing rate of commercialisation of research emerging from research institutes; stimulating companies to put new product-process innovation at the centre of their growth plans and to become an embedded feature of their strategic development; providing funding for closer and more intensive links between industry and universities-institutes of technology and facilitating the setting up of incubator centres; building the webworks programme that will see high technology enterprise space built in strategic regional centres to support high potential start-ups, especially in the software and information and communications technology sectors; improving competitiveness by for example Enterprise Ireland's €10 million competitiveness fund to help small and medium enterprises, SMEs, overcome distinctive competitiveness difficulties. To date, a total of €7,509,528 has been committed; helping exports growth by arranging access to international buyers, increasing the number of in-market trade promotion activities and expanding the number of overseas incubation centres thus providing a low cost market entry mechanism for clients.