THE latest CSO Live Register figures indicate a further drop in the numbers of people signing on the dole, but ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, has pointed to an underlying slowdown in job creation, which it claims is due to fresh obstacles being put in place by the government that are discouraging employers from taking on more people.
These include the expectation of increased business costs and wage pressures. Notwithstanding the success of the government’s Action Plan for Jobs so far, the latest seasonally-adjusted Live Register still contains 343,100 people, with long-term claimants accounting for increased 45.5% of the total, and ISME wants the Government ‘to stop electioneering and tackle the obstacles impeding employment growth.’
In particular, it cites the impending minimum wage increase as a factor stopping SMEs from expanding their workforce: ‘Jobs will not be created while SMEs are expecting cost increases, through minimum wage, sick pay, paternity and parental leave,’ warned Mark Fielding, the CEO of ISME.
It is, justifiably, worried about the issues of long-term and youth unemployment and maintains that both these groups run the risk of becoming unemployable, due to a lack of recent relevant job experience, calling for an increase in government job activation schemes. ISME also wants the government to reform the social welfare system to make it more profitable to work.
Mr Fielding added that the government must help create a positive environment amongst employers which would encourage them more to create jobs and he was rather scathing in his contention that ‘this will not be achieved while government politicians, scared of losing their seats, continue to pile on costs on SME, in an effort to “buy” the election.’