At the release of the Monthly Unemployment figures from the CSO , ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, demanded that the next administration must put small businesses at the top of the agenda if jobs growth is to be rebooted.
The Association called on politicians to focus on a message of cost competitiveness and taxation stability.
The Monthly Unemployment figures for January confirm that 186,700 people are still signing on the dole, a reduction of -3000 in the month. The standardised unemployment rate is 8.6%.
ISME CEO, Mark Fielding, said, "Electioneering politicians are already succumbing to pressure to promise all sorts of electoral goodies in their quest to garner votes. They must remember that as public representatives they have a duty of care with the economy and this cannot include giveaway budgets and uneconomic pay increases. By putting SME business first, they will be helping to build an environment in which employment growth can flourish".
The Action Plan for Jobs formula championed by this administration has enjoyed some success. However, many of the people who are still unemployed require retraining to fit the skills needs of today's employers. Government could make a difference in this area by promoting the Jobsplus incentive and introducing further assistance for employers willing to create more jobs".
The Association called on the Government to:
Reduce government influenced business costs to below the EU average.
Ensure real measurable access to credit for viable SMEs.
Outsource more state sector services to SMEs.
Reform the social welfare system to make it more profitable to work.
Attack the scourge of ever-increasing black economy activity.
"The ever increasing business costs, including wage increases are having a negative effect on employment growth. Government must understand that unless it is economically viable to hire more staff, SMEs cannot do it," concluded Fielding