ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, at the release of the latest CSO Live Register figures today (7th April), called on the next Government to tackle the issue of long-term
unemployment, even if it meant making unpopular decisions. The Association stated that taxpayers
cannot afford to finance people unwilling to work on a long-term basis and workforce activation
measures must be improved.
The seasonally adjusted Live Register figure for March decreased by 2,900, leaving 317,800 people
signing on the dole.
Commenting on the figures, ISME CEO, Mark Fielding said, “Now that the economy appears to be recovering, it is time to look at those remaining on the live register, especially the 141,000 long-term unemployed, and examine the reasons that are preventing them from entering fulltime work. Skills gaps must be addressed and obstacles to working removed. Those who refuse to work must be either compelled to do so or be dropped from the Live Register.”
“Coupled with this is the need to keep wage rates at a reasonable level. The recent increase in the
minimum wage is acting as a disincentive for job creation and calls for further increases must be
resisted. The completely unrealistic notion of the uneconomic ‘living wage’ is putting extra pressure
on wage rates and employers are struggling to keep up.”
The Association advised employers to stand firm on wage claims and called on the Government to:
Introduce new and improve existing activation schemes in conjunction with employers.
Increase job-rich infrastructure investment.
Reform the social welfare system to make it more profitable to work.
Attack the scourge of ever-increasing black economy activity.
Focus on cost competitiveness for the SME sector.
Reduce government influenced business costs to below the EU average.
Ensure real measurable access to credit for viable SMEs.
Outsource more state sector services to SMEs.
“The recent rhetoric and lip-service paid to the SME sector from politicians on all sides must now be backed up by real action. We need a concerted effort to continue to reduce the overall unemployment figures. Consumer confidence will be restored through increased jobs; jobs will be created when costs are addressed.” concluded Fielding