Setback for local job creation as cutbacks hit boards
COUNTY Enterprise Boards (CEBs) have reduced their staff by almost 15pc and around one-fifth of them will be without a chief executive by the end of the year, their organisation's head has predicted.
Enterprise boards are down about 18 staff out of a total of some 130. By the end of the year it is expected that seven of the 35 boards will be without a chief executive, according to County Enterprise Board Network chairman, Michael Tunney.
In Connacht, the Sligo board is the only one that has retained its full complement of employees. The Roscommon board is without half of its staff of four while Galway has been without a permanent chief executive since January. Boards cannot replace staff due to the embargo on public sector recruitment.
Mr Tunney said the CEBs could create more than 3,500 jobs a year if they were resourced properly.
"At a time when businesses are in most need of support, 70 grants that were approved in the first half of this year had to be deferred due to a lack of budget," he added.
"This does not make any sense. These grants are for jobs, in companies vetted by CEB experts, that can be created in a matter of weeks or months in most cases."
The Local Government Efficiency Review Group said the State could save about €500m by a number of measures, including the merger of some boards with county councils.
Mr Tunney said that in the first half of the year, CEBs supported more than 970 jobs in companies with the potential to create a total of 2,235 jobs over the next three years.
"As well as creating jobs we can help to sustain a further 100,000 in existing businesses but only if we can get the necessary resources," he added.
The chief executive of the Fingal CEB in Dublin, Oisin Geoghegan, said demand for advice and services "has trebled in the last couple of years".
"There are so many queries coming in from the public now that we can't give one-to-one training or advice any more," he added.