Jobs news welcome but much remains to be done
NEWS that US financial services company Capita plans to take on a further 800 people in Dublin over the next three years is another sign that the labour market is slowly improving. Good news on the employment front has all too often been limited to certain sectors and often centred on the Dublin area, but the good news is that we are seeing a steady flow of job announcements these days from multi-nationals and local champions such as Kerry Group and Glanbia.
This is one of the reasons why the Economic and Social Research Institute predicted yesterday that the unemployment rate would fall below 14pc next year. That is still very high, but it is not much higher than the rest of the eurozone, where unemployment is now hovering around 12pc.
A graph of Irish unemployment over the past few years looks like the trajectory of a jumbo jet; a steep rise followed by a very long plateau. It will take many more Capitas to bring unemployment back to the levels seen in the early part of the past decade, but it can be done. Britain, which is also suffering from the after-effects of a massive credit binge, has managed to keep unemployment below 5pc for years. This week, unemployment in our nearest neighbour fell to 4.6pc.
Unemployment among the young and long-term joblessness are particularly pernicious problems. Many young people in Ireland are growing up without ever knowing what it is like to work, while many others are watching their skills go rusty. Independent observers, including the organisations funding the State, are deeply unhappy with our back-to-work schemes, which are often lackadaisical and ineffective. The Government can and should do more.
Enda Kenny and his Government staked their reputations on job creation. While there is much to be done, they have enjoyed a few successes such as the innovative Jobs Bridge scheme and the numerous job announcements. We will need better job creation schemes and more announcements, but the creation of 800 jobs by one company in only three years shows it can be done.