A new group has been given six months to come up with a plan for creating 20,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, who appointed the forum, said the extra posts could make up a fifth of the 100,000 the Government hopes to create by 2016 under its Action Plan for Jobs.
"Central to the Government's plan for jobs and growth is our determination to create a powerful engine of manufacturing industry," said Mr Bruton.
"We have a strong base of high-end, world-leading multinational manufacturing companies operating in a range of sectors - we must aspire to replicate the success of international examples like the mittelstand companies in Germany, by developing this level of success in the indigenous economy also."
The Manufacturing Development Forum includes officials from Government development agency IDA, Forfas and private sector senior executives from manufacturing companies.
They must come up with a plan of policy actions to be published by the end of the year and open up talks between industry representatives and Government bodies to get rid of any obstacles affecting growth in the manufacturing sector.
"Manufacturing has contributed significantly to Ireland's economic development in the past - and is a crucial element of Ireland's economic future," said Mr Bruton.
"It is a key driver of innovation and technological advance, is an important source of jobs for people at all skill levels and generates many additional secondary jobs."
He said Ireland has particular strengths in the biopharma, pharma, medical technology, food, engineering and electronics strands of manufacturing.
The sector currently employs around 230,000 people across the country.