Disappointment over delays in Export Finance initiative for SMEs.
"Competitiveness comes before jobs"
At the release of the Action Plan for Jobs 2016 today (18th January), ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association, welcomed the new plan and called on Government to ensure that their election promises do not threaten SME recovery and viability. The Association was pleased to see that many of their recommendations had been included, with an emphasis on regional development, e-interactions and skills included in the plan.
Mark Fielding, ISME CEO, commented, "We welcome many of the measures announced today, particularly the focus on regional development, skills and apprenticeships. However, economic success should not be measured solely on job increases. There must also be an increased focus on improved competitiveness before jobs can be created".
Government has ignored the apprenticeship crisis for far too long and this delay will have long-lasting consequences. However, efforts to deal with the issue of upskilling the workforce, to ensure that the emerging skills gaps are dealt with, are appreciated and must be promoted and supported. The National Training Fund must be utilized effectively for this purpose
"We are disappointed that there is a delay in the roll out of export finance. Many SMEs find it difficult to make the jump from selling locally to exporting, despite the fact that accessing bigger markets is necessary for growth. The range of obstacles preventing them from making this move are as complex as they are varied but one over-arching issue is that of finance. This initiative must be fast-tracked in 2016."
"The ambition to create 50,000 jobs in 2016 is achievable, as indicated in the recent ISME Business Trends Survey Q4, 2015. However the jobs ambition is predicated on SMEs being in a position to grow their business and costs are the deciding factor. It is therefore incumbent on the Administration to focus on competitiveness in all areas but in particular on wage costs",concluded Fielding.