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Increased variety of apprenticeships & traineeships a welcome addition to the Irish education landscape

 

Commenting on today’s (26th January 2017) announcement by Minister for Education Richard Bruton TD and Minister of State for Training and Skills John Halligan TD, Waterford Chamber President, Laurent Borla said, “We welcome the ambitious targets set out today by Government to increase and expand apprenticeship and traineeship places by 2020 and the allocation of an extra €20 million in funding for delivery this year.

 

"Increased workplace based learning programmes will play an important role in helping the Irish education system meet the demands and skills needs of a growing economy and an ever evolving jobs market. Practical learning and orientation with elements of on-the-job placements ensure that graduates are workplace-ready, benefitting both businesses and job-seekers. The diversity of options being made available under the Plan announced today will be vital in the Department’s goal of making the Irish education system the best in Europe within a decade.

 

"Workplace and skills based learning must play a greater role in Ireland’s education system going forward and the increase in apprenticeships and traineeships is much needed. The challenge now will be to encourage uptake and promote the varied opportunities that apprenticeships and traineeships can offer to students and businesses; for too long they have been associated with a limited number of trades. SMEs in many sectors have much to gain from working with SOLAS and engaging in apprenticeship and traineeship programmes and we encourage businesses to get involved."

 
EIB investment is a welcome support but greater levels of capital investment a priority

 

The European Investment Bank (EIB) today (24th January 2017) confirmed investment of €825 million in Ireland in 2016.

 

Commenting on the announcement, Waterford Chamber President, Laurent Borla said, "We welcome the significant level of investment in Ireland in 2016 and the ongoing support the EIB provides for crucial long-term infrastructure projects across the country. Ireland requires significant capital investment in the coming years in order to develop the infrastructure our economy so badly needs to ensure continued and sustainable long-term growth. The European Investment Bank’s continued financial support for these projects is a reaffirmation of the enormous value of our membership of the European Union.

 

"This €825 million is an important contribution which will help to deliver key infrastructure projects but Government must also prioritise further investment, of even greater levels, to meet the demands of our growing economy. If we are to continue to grow our economy in the years ahead, especially if we aspire to attract additional foreign direct investment from multi-nationals who may wish to leave the UK following their EU exit, we must also ensure that our infrastructure can meet the additional demands this growth will create."

 
Rural communities must be supported to achieve their full potential

 

rural ireland action planWaterford Chamber welcomes the Action Plan for Rural Development launched today (23rd January 2017) by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny and Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD.

 

Commenting on the Action Plan, Nick Donnelly, Chamber CEO said, “We very much welcome the ‘Realising our Rural Potential’ plan which is an important indication of Government commitment to supporting rural communities and the rural economy across Ireland. This Action Plan is a key component of a series of strategic initiatives such as the roll out of the National Broadband Plan and the development of a National Planning Framework that, when delivered, will allow rural businesses to grow and develop within their communities.

 

“The long term strategy for rural Ireland must be to support our regions and rural communities in achieving their full potential in terms of economic development. Initiatives such as the South East Regional Action Plan for Jobs and the development of an Atlantic Economic Corridor have the potential to prove transformational for the economic development of the regions, but they will require a sustained focus from policy makers and significant capital investment over the coming years if they are to prove effective. Vibrant rural communities within strong regions will ensure the long term sustainability of rural life in Ireland.”   

 
Theresa May's Brexit speech: More Questions Than Answers

 

Commenting on UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech today (17/01/2017), Nick Donnelly, Waterford Chamber CEO said, "Ultimately the speech was no more than an articulation of the UK’s top-line negotiating position.

 

"Businesses in Ireland are no further advanced in understanding the issues that will need to be dealt with at the conclusion of this process but can take some solace in matters which the UK specified as being key elements in the negotiations. The reference to the special relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of retaining the Common Travel Area is welcome although more clarity on barrier-free arrangements with Northern Ireland remains critical for businesses on both sides of the border.

 

"The acknowledgement of the desire to take in “elements of the Single Market” and a “new agreement on Customs Union” is positive for Irish exporters but will clearly be very contentious parts of the forthcoming negotiations and mutually beneficial solutions will need to be identified.

 

"Timing of any changes remains very unclear. The Prime Minister’s acknowledgement of the need for reasonable transition periods is positive. However the process for approval of any negotiated agreement by the remaining EU States and the UK Parliament, where both Houses will be given a vote, will generate continued uncertainty and potentially the risk of a Brexit with no deal in place.

 

"In addition the expressed desire to conduct negotiations with a high level of privacy will only contribute to continued uncertainty and volatility. While we understand the need for a degree of confidentiality to facilitate negotiators in identifying an agreement, a process to create some level of transparency to enable businesses to plan for possible future scenarios must be put in place.

 

It is vitally important that the Irish Government and all relevant stakeholders ensure that Ireland’s interests are properly represented in the forthcoming negotiations, that the desire for reasonable transition periods forms part of any agreement and that all States negotiate and reach agreement based on economically rational principles."

 
Action Plans for Jobs 2017 must focus on youth unemployment

 

Commenting on the release of the CSO Monthly Unemployment figures for December 2016, Laurent Borla, Waterford Chamber President said, “The ongoing reduction in the unemployment rate is positive news, coming as it does at a time of uncertainty for the Irish economy.

 

“However, the most encouraging aspect of the December figures is the drop in the rate of youth unemployment. Youth unemployment fell by 0.9% to 14.5% in December and while remaining high, the trend over the past six months is moving in the right direction. High youth unemployment remains as a legacy of the recession and needs to be addressed. Increasing opportunities for young people starting out in the workplace is important not only for economic reasons but is essential for the future social cohesion of Ireland.

 

“Government must remain focused on job creation and tackling youth unemployment in 2017. There are two clear ways this can be achieved. The first is by making youth unemployment a specific focus of the Action Plan for Jobs 2017. The Action Plan for Jobs programme has made a significant contribution to job creation over recent years, and by focusing on youth unemployment in 2017 we believe further progress will be made on this front.

 

“Secondly, the Action Plan for Education must be delivered as soon as possible. This Plan provides for an expansion of apprenticeship programmes, traineeships and workplace focused education and training, all of which will prepare young people for a modern labour market. These two measures will help Ireland meaningfully deal with what has proven a stubborn problem.”

 
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