While we have had great success through the Action Plan for Jobs in reducing unemployment from 16% to 4.4% today, in the context of Brexit and other global challenges it is important that we move our focus beyond numbers of jobs created to quality and sustainable jobs. Future Jobs Ireland is our plan to meet all these challenges. Launched on 10 March 2019, it includes ambitious targets and actions to drive this transformation of our economy. These includes funds, policies and initiatives that; enhance productivity, especially among SMEs; promote indigenous entrepreneurship, especially in the regions; encourage clustering and stronger links between domestic and foreign owned firms; and assist businesses to move up the value chain, to protect jobs and to build resilience for the future.
My Department continues to support and encourage start-up enterprises and entrepreneurs nationally through the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) which have contributed to our economic success. Year on year the they have increased their client numbers and job creation in all regions throughout the country. They are central to the continued growth of small business and the success of future start up enterprises and entrepreneurs.
In 2018, the LEOs had 36,666 clients generating 8,007 total jobs with a net gain of 3,656 in the year with all regions recording increases in employment. The Government’s commitment to start-up enterprises and small businesses is demonstrated through the additional funding of €5m allocated to the LEOs in the Budget 19 to encourage new clients to apply for grants and initiatives made available through the LEOs.
The flagship Local Enterprise Office Start Your Own Business (SYOB) programme gives aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs an opportunity to assess whether they have a viable business idea. It helps de-risk start-up business by identifying, understanding and researching their target market. The LEO SYOB caters for
- Anyone with a business idea they want to develop
- Anyone looking at self-employment as a career option
- Anyone who recently started a business
The Local Enterprise Office also run Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur Programme with an investment fund of €2 million, which is open to people between the ages of 18 and 35 with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business.
Enterprise Ireland’s results for 2018 show the progress that the Agency have been making in supporting and driving the creation of new enterprises in the indigenous sector at a national and regional level. Client companies assisted by Enterprise Ireland created 18,846 jobs in 2018 and 64% of the jobs created were outside Dublin, with all regions recording increases in employment.
Enterprise Ireland has an extensive range of supports to encourage start-ups, including:
- High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) Feasibility Grant: assists a new start-up company or individual entrepreneur to investigate the viability of a new export orientated business or proposition.
- HPSU equity support: actively works with HPSUs, companies with the potential to develop an innovative product or service for sale in international markets and the potential to create 10 jobs and €1m in sales within 3 to 4 years of starting up.
The Government’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund is about supporting every region in Ireland to build on its unique strengths and ultimately create sustainable jobs. The Fund, which is delivered for the Government through Enterprise Ireland launched an open national competitive call to encourage start-ups and regional projects.
Under the Future Jobs Ireland strategy, the Government is promoting indigenous entrepreneurship, especially in the regions; in encouraging clustering and stronger links between domestic and foreign owned firms; and helping in assisting businesses to move up the value chain.
Brexit uncertainty has been identified as likely to create significant challenges for many businesses, however several supports have been developed to help them to rise to this challenge. These supports, and programmes are focused on innovation, export market diversification, competitiveness and information sharing.
The LEOs and Enterprise Ireland are an outstanding resource available to businesses and their variety of clients in such a diversity of sectors is a demonstration of the expertise available through these Agencies. Businesses that work closely with benefit significantly from the supports, mentoring and training they provide. I will ensure that the Enterprise Agencies continue to get the resources they need to create jobs and allow start-up enterprises to flourish throughout all regions.