330,000 jobs lost in crash to be replaced by 2020 -- Kenny
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has promised all of the 330,000 jobs lost during the economic crash will be replaced by 2020.
The new medium-term economic strategy sets a target of getting the workforce back to 2.16 million people over the next six years.
If achieved, it would see the unemployment rate drop from 13.5pc to 6pc -- which is considered to be "full employment".
Mr Kenny promised that 2014 would be the "year for jobs" and that the Government would do everything it could to accelerate reforms in the labour market.
"There will be a strong push to make the economy more competitive," he said.
The Government is promising to provide more supports for the country's 180,000 small and medium-sized businesses, as well as promoting Irish exports in China and other emerging superpowers.
The Cabinet yesterday signed off on the 2014 version of the "Action Plan for Jobs" which will target more jobs in existing sectors such as agri-food and financial services, as well as boosting jobs in green energy and healthcare services.
At Government Buildings Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said the aim of the Government was to get the number of people employed back to 2.16 million by 2020.
"Economic recovery means being able to see your grandchildren in person rather than talking to them on Skype," he said.
But Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald warned that people had little confidence in the litany of hollow economic plans offered up by the Government.
And Fianna Fail social protection spokesman Willie O'Dea (above) warned about the commitment in the new economic strategy to require all workers to make pension contributions.
"It must be handled with care and should not be used as an extra tax on work," he said.
Meanwhile, limited recruitment of public sector workers is to be recommenced after a moratorium of four years.
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said that between now and 2020, "very selective" recruitment will take place to address "pressure points" in the system caused by the public sector embargo on employment.
Speaking at the press conference to launch the Government's Medium-Term Economic Strategy, Mr Howlin said since the crisis, the public service has been downsized by 30,000 or 10pc from a peak of 320,000 in 2009. He added that a further €1bn will be saved in the public pay bill by 2015 under the Haddington Road Agreement.
Mr Howlin said he wants to move away from a system based on worker numbers to one that is based on payroll costs. By doing so, he will create additional flexibility to allow recruitment of staff, as he was able to do in An Garda Siochana, which will recruit 300 new members next year for the first time in four years.
"We will reach the payroll savings hopefully by having some flexibility in the numbers. For example, I have allowed the recruitment of gardai for the first time. We will see recruits in Templemore in the first half of next year," he said.