Belfast Telegraph

New jobs plan 're-uses old targets'

Plans to create 300,000 jobs over the next five years have been dismissed as reheated targets already published by state agencies.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen claimed the massive employment boost was a realistic goal on the Government's new pathway to growth strategy.

Under the proposals, a Foreign Trade Council will be set up to coordinate trade missions around the world, particularly to the likes of China, India, Brazil and Russia.

These so-called emerging economies, which are growing wealthier much faster than other countries, are seen as key to boosting Irish business through stronger trade links. The Middle East and Africa will also be targeted in the attempt to increase homegrown Irish exports by a third by 2015.

"The United States, Britain and Europe will remain key trading partners but we must seize the huge extra opportunities offered by other, newer markets," said Mr Cowen.

The Taoiseach singled out food, tourism, electronics, construction, engineering, financial services and software as industries in Ireland ripe for more business abroad.

The plan aims to directly create more than 150,000 jobs, which would indirectly create another 150,000. Visitor numbers to Ireland would be boosted to eight million, creating up to 15,000 jobs under the scheme.

Mr Cowen said the plan would involve more high-level trade missions overseas while Irish ambassadors abroad would take a more hands-on approach to drumming up business.

At home, the education system will be tweaked to focus more on languages, culture and the history of emerging nations, he added.

But the ambitious strategy was rubbished by Fine Gael's enterprise and jobs spokesman as reheated policies that already exist in plans by Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Tourism Ireland.

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