Government warned to help jobless
The Irish Government has been warned to do more to create jobs for the long-term unemployed.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said while Ireland's economy is showing signs of recovery from the financial crisis, more must be done to reinvigorate growth and create the jobs that will get the country back to full health.
Its latest economic report found employment and social inclusion issues were vital to Ireland's continuing rebound from the crisis, its prospects of growth and the well-being of Irish people.
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said: "What's needed today is a strategic agenda for more inclusive growth that promotes job creation and social equity by harnessing the power of entrepreneurship and innovation."
The survey found while the unemployment rate recently began to decline, joblessness remains a serious concern with more than 13% of the labour force out of work and 60% of those jobless for more than a year.
The youth unemployment rate is 28.6%, while the number of young people emigrating continues to soar and 11.3% of teens are not in school, training or work.
"The OECD recommends that Ireland do much more to assist the unemployed, notably long-term job-seekers," it stated.
"It points out a critical need for support and retraining, to ward against social exclusion and ensure that young people are prepared to work as the recovery strengthens.
"The local job creation report lays out new strategies to ensure that education and training programmes provide the skills needed in the labour markets of today and the future."
Elsewhere, the OECD said fiscal adjustment should focus on social equity and environmental protection.
It said further pension reforms and reductions in tax expenditures could lower distortions to growth and improve equity, that barriers to entrepreneurship should be made less restrictive, finance improved for small and medium sized businesses.
"Exports remain the main drivers of growth, but a gradual recovery of domestic demand is expected," it said.
"Overall, the economy is well poised to benefit from a pick-up in activity of its main trading partners."
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said the Government have taken and implemented difficult decisions in recent years, with the results becoming increasingly clear.
"There are at last some positive signs on the labour market," he added.
"And we will exit, successfully, from our EU/IMF programme later this year. Significant challenges certainly remain, but Ireland is emerging from the crisis."
The Government said there was an annual increase in employment of 33,800 (1.8%) in the year to the second quarter of 2013 and that u nemployment decreased by 22,200 (6.9%) year on year, bringing the total number of persons unemployed to 300,700.
But Sinn Fein spokesperson on jobs, enterprise and innovation, David Cullinane, said the latest OECD report is a damning indictment on the government's job creation record.
"Despite the government spin the figures speak for themselves," said the senator.
"Since this government came to power the unemployment rate has fallen by only 0.5%, and youth and long-term unemployment has risen.
"At the same time emigration has increased with people leaving the state at a rate of 1,700 per week.
"It is clear that the government policy of austerity has maintained high unemployment and undermined the economy.
"We need to get our people back to work, we need investment in job creation and we need support for our small enterprises."