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More funding, more services, more staff in new improved system for local enterprise supports Local Enterprise Offices will be up and running in April


A new improved system of Local Enterprise Offices in each local authority with more funding, more staff and more services will be up and running in April, the Government announced today after a special Cabinet meeting on jobs.
Key features of the new Local Enterprise Office (LEO) system will include:
- Additional funding of €3.5million in 2014
- 170 dedicated staff across the LEOs system, supplemented by a new Graduate Recruitment Programme to take place shortly and supported by a further40 Local Authority staff
- Additional services including a new Young Entrepreneurship Fund, Microfinance Ireland, Credit Guarantee Scheme, and access to services from Revenue and Dept Social Protection
- System will combine new supports with business services currently delivered by CEBs and those delivered by Local Authorities in a "first-stop shop" located in Local Authority offices , under overall framework set by Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Ireland
- Each LEO, embedded in a local authority, will develop a local plan for boosting enterprise, with targets including be new business start-ups, business expansions and jobs created or sustained as well as wider economic impacts such as exports, mentoring, training and enterprise promotion. This represents a fundamental reform of local government so that services are delivered and decisions made closer to the people
- New training programmes for all staff in customer support, and a new customer service charter which will include targets for levels of service delivery
The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs also today published the eighth quarterly progress report under the Action Plan for Jobs, showing that 299 out of the 333 actions committed to in the 2013 plan have been delivered. The system of public quarterly progress reports is a crucial part of the Action Plan for Jobs system - the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs holding themselves accountable in public on delivery every quarter ensures that implementation actually happens, in contrast with many high-profile plans under previous Governments.
The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD said:
"Following Ireland's successful exit from the bailout in December, the Government is determined that 2014 will be 'the year for jobs'. This means a relentless drive for job creation and the continued implementation of the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work. Brick-by-brick we are rebuilding a competitive, enterprise and export focused economy and reforming local government so that it can become an engine of economic development. Implementation of our plan is key and I'm happy to report that 95% of the actions required under the Action Plan for Jobs during the past two years have been delivered. While positive movements in the Live Register and our international rankings as an economy are welcome, there is no more urgent task than for us as a Government than getting Ireland working and this will be the constant focus of the Year for Jobs."
The Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore TD said:
"As we have seen in recent weeks, the export led recovery is continuing as we attract more inward investment, evidenced by the recent series of very welcome job announcements. A key focus of the cabinet discussion, was how we can do more to translate that growth into more jobs in the domestic economy. The critical next step is to see growth in exports translated into further jobs in the real economy, such as in construction and retail. Those sectors are particularly jobs-rich, and fit the existing skills of many people currently without work."
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said:
"Start-ups and small businesses are crucial to our plans for jobs and growth. 200,000 SMEs in Ireland employ more than 650,000 people in Ireland, and two thirds of all new jobs come from businesses in their first five years of existence. That is why we asked an expert group of entrepreneurs under Sean O'Sullivan to recommend actions in this area. And that is why with Minister Hogan and the Local Government system we are radically overhauling disparate system of supports for small business we inherited to provide a first-stop shop in every county where entrepreneurs and business-people can access all the Government supports they need.
"This is the Government's Action Plan for Jobs working. Previous Governments published high-profile plans but could not or forgot to implement them. For 24 months we have held ourselves to account in public every quarter - this ensures that the things that need to get done actually get done. The cumulative effects of this are beginning to be seen, with 58,000 extra people at work in the past year. The challenge now is to press ahead with Action Plan for Jobs 2014, build on the progress we have made, and create the jobs we need".
Small business is the main source of jobs in Ireland. Energising the local enterprise environment to stimulate start-ups and the expansion of small business is a key element of the Government's business and job creation strategy. Vibrant local entrepreneurship is also key to Ireland becoming the best small country in which to do business.
The LEOs represent a transformation of the support for small enterprise across every county. Small business will have a central place in national enterprise policy and this will feed down to local level and local authorities will strengthen their direct engagement and support for business ideas and jobs.
The new service means that national enterprise policy and local business supports will be brought together to strengthen the local business culture and environment, combining the best of the County Enterprise Boards and the Local Authorities, within a framework set by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation and overseen by Enterprise Ireland.
Each LEO will develop a local plan for boosting enterprise. The ambition is to maximise entrepreneurship and job creation at local level. Key targets in the local plan will be new business start-ups, business expansions and jobs created or sustained as well as wider economic impacts such as exports, mentoring, training and enterprise promotion. The Local Authorities will also bring new initiatives and opportunities for supporting local enterprise.
The 31 LEO 0ffices, with 170 dedicated staff, and supported by additional Local Authority liaison personnel, will be the local hub for enterprise support, delivering a comprehensive 'first stop shop' service to local entrepreneurs and businesses:
- Combining direct grants, mentoring and training (formerly delivered by the County Enterprise Boards) with business supports and assistance available through the Local Authorities.
- Utilising local business expertise to evaluate projects.
- Providing training and mentoring on starting your own business, including drawing up a business plan or accessing commercial space;
- Providing an enhanced advice and guidance service embracing all other local and national supports.
- Direct referral of clients to Enterprise Ireland.
- Direct referral to the Microfinance Ireland and Loan Guarantee Schemes.
- Direct advice and guidance on Local Authority rates, procurement and regulations affecting business.
This restructuring of enterprise supports as well as additional governmental support means that the new service will be enhanced in several different ways;
- Additional funding of €3.5m (20%) in 2014
§ A new Entrepreneurship Fund aimed at start-ups by under 25's
§ Additional Local Authority staff to complement the existing CEB staff
§ Placement of newly recruited business graduates in LEO's to stimulate business ideas in the county.
- A Centre of Excellence in Enterprise Ireland to ensure 'best practice' ideas transfer across the LEO network and to encourage LEOs to take initiatives at regional level.
- New training programmes for all staff in customer support, in line with the new customer service charter, and in respect of the additional new services available from the LEO office.
On average, CEBs assist approximately 1,000 micro-enterprise projects each year through direct grant assistance in addition to providing soft supports including training, mentoring and management development to a significant number of micro-enterprises. In 2013, just over €9.5m was provided by the CEBs to micro-enterprises by way of capital grant support, with just under €8.5m spent in providing soft supports. Provisional activity outputs for 2013 indicate that there were over 26,000 participants on CEB training courses and over 6,500 participants on management programmes, while almost 6,000 clients received mentoring support.
This is the eighth progress report from the Monitoring Committee established by Government to monitor and drive implementation of the measures contained in the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 (APJ 2013). It outlines progress made on measures due for completion in the fourth quarter of 2013. It also includes an update on measures described in the Plan as "ongoing in 2013" and provides a final assessment of the implementation of the APJ 2013.
As the final review of the implementation of the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 in its entirety, it also provides a synopsis of the implementation of the Plan as a whole over the year which shows that 299 of the 333 actions committed to in the Plan have been delivered over the year giving rise to an overall implementation rate of 90%.
Overall, the 2013 Plan, the second instalment in an ambitious multi-year process, aims to create the environment where the number of people at work will increase by 100,000 by 2016, and exceed 2 million people by 2020.
While unemployment remains high, there are signs of progress in the labour market. The latest data shows that there was an annual increase in employment of 3.2% or 57,900 in the year to the third quarter of 2013; some 92% of this increased employment is in full-time roles.
The continuing scale of the challenge is evident with 276,600 persons unemployed in the third quarter of 2013. However, this represented a decrease of 40,200 or 12.7% in the number of people unemployed in the year and this builds significantly on the 1.1% decrease in unemployment seen in 2012. It is worth noting that this fall in unemployment over the year took place in the context of an overall increase in the labour force which grew from 2,148,800 in Q3 2012 to 2,164,300 in Q3 2013.
The growth in employment is being seen across a range of sectors, predominantly in the export-oriented sectors supported by the enterprise development agencies, as well as in tourism. There was also a considerable increase in the numbers employed in the agricultural sectoras well as a moderate increase in the construction sector (4% or 4,300).
Employment grew in eight of the fourteen economic sectors over the year, with the greatest rate of decline recorded in public administration and defence (-3.8% or -3,800), but with rises in employment in other sectors targeted by the Action Plan for Jobs, particularly internationally traded services and manufacturing.
The Action Plan process is having a positive impact on the enterprise environment and job creation which can be seen in the significant level of net job creation in the enterprise agencies client companies. In 2013, client companies of Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland created 5,442 and 7,071 new net jobs respectively; this represents the highest levels of net new job creation by agency client companies in over a decade.
Total employment at IDA client companies now stands at 161,112 people, the highest level in the history of IDA Ireland. New job announcements and investments by IDA client companies in 2013 included a number of companies with an established presence in Ireland such as Novartis, Salesforce, Deutsche Bank and eBay as well as first time investments by companies such as Tripadvisor and Airbnb.
Total employment in Enterprise Ireland client companies stands as 175,750; the highest level recorded in the last decade. 2013 saw a number of significant announcements by Enterprise Ireland client companies including the development by Glanbia of a world-class dairy facility in Kilkenny which will create over 1,600 direct and indirect jobs and contribute an estimated €400 million per annum to the economy.
The Action Plan for Jobs is a rolling plan and, above all, a plan that will be judged on its results and impacts. In this context, some early stage impacts are being seen linked to the implementation of measures in the Plan aimed at enhancing the operating environment for firms. For example:
§ The Gathering 2013 has been extremely successful with CSO figures for the year to date suggesting that the target of attracting 325,000 additional overseas visitors in 2013 will be exceeded; the first ten months of the year show a 7.3% increase compared to the corresponding period of 2012. Employment in the Accommodation and Food Services sector increased by 14,200 or 12% to 133,300 in the twelve months to the end of September 2013; its highest level in Quarter 3 since 2007.
6 out of 10 hotel owners reported increased business as a result of The Gathering, according to a Tourism Barometer Survey undertaken in September 2013, and B&B Ireland reported that the Gathering had resulted in significant increased business. Total expenditure by overseas visitors in Ireland (excluding fares) for the first half of 2013 saw an increase of 8.6% on the same period in 2012, according to CSO figures. (Action 297)
§ The County and City Managers Association have agreed in principle on a continuing role for the support of Gathering type/local community events. Fáilte Ireland are developing Gathering 'toolkits' to look at strategically important areas for tourism including Community Activation, Community event micro-funding and rolling out a volunteer ambassador programme. (Actions 298, 299)
§ The decision to abolish the Air Travel Tax of €3 under Budget 2014 has seen a seen a very positive response from airlines, with a total of 23 new services commencing in 2014, along with additional capacity on 21 existing routes from the four airports. The first 11 months of 2013 saw an increase of 4.1% for combined traffic at the three State airports in, over 2012. Transatlantic traffic at Dublin and Shannon airports over the Summer season 2013 increased by 20%, and this is likely to continue in 2014 with new services commencing to San Francisco, Toronto and Newfoundland. (Actions 163, 302)
§ Funding of €104,000 was recently approved by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to fund 6 internships aimed at providing young graduates with research, editorial and data management skills in the Irish language digital humanities sector. (Action 229)
§ The Irish Visa Waiver Scheme is having a positive impact on the numbers of visitors from the countries covered under the scheme. Figures from the Central Statistics Office indicate that there was a 38% increase in the number of visitors from the countries involved in 2012 compared to 2010, the last full year before the introduction of the Programme. The list of countries covered by the scheme is reviewed on an ongoing basis informed by tourism and trade developments; in November 2013, the Minister for Justice and Equality added Thailand to the list of seventeen countries already covered by the Visa Waiver Programme. (Action 307)
§ 34 new jobs were created by the Irish Maritime and Energy Cluster (IMERC), and research funding of €29 million was secured (€19 million from Science Foundation Ireland and €10 million from industry) to position Ireland at the forefront of marine renewable research globally. The IMERC expects to create upwards of 180 new jobs in 2014 on the construction of the Beaufort Laboratory, in skilled research jobs and in new company start ups. (Action 255)
§ 105 new jobs were created in 2013 under Bord Iascaigh Mhara's seafood processing investment programmes (vis à vis its target of 40). (Actions 254, 255)
§ Irish agri-food institutional researchers won €11.3 million in funding under the final EU- FP7 research call in 2013. (Action 106)
§ A new innovative 'white cheese' tailored to the Middle Eastern market, and a second cheese product for the European market have been produced based on the results of ongoing research. (Actions 112, 264 & 265)
§ 60% of food and drink exports in 2013 were supplied by companies who are verified members of Origin Green and the target is to increase this to 75% by end 2014. Launched in 2012, the Origin Green programme incorporates specific sustainability enhancing activities at farm and industry level. (Action 269)
§ 43 projects were approved for funding under the Competitive Feasibility Funds calls in the first three quarters of 2013. These calls were made on both a sectoral and regional basis which included the North East, the Mid West and two separate national calls for aviation companies and female entrepreneurs.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, Departments and agencies were to deliver 140 measures under the Action Plan. Twenty of the measures due in Quarter 4 2013 have not been delivered on schedule, giving a completion rate of 86%. In delivering 120 fourth quarter measures under the Plan, the Government has, for example:
- Under Action 6, Enterprise Ireland formally established a Technology Centre in Data Analytics, based out of UCD
- Under Action 13, 84% of the 769 places available on ICT graduate conversion programmes available have been filled to date and colleges are continuing to enrol students
- Under Action 128, the Department of Education and Skills published their review of the apprenticeship system in Ireland on January 21st 2014. The Review is available at:
- Under Action 152, 147 schools have had broadband deployed to date under phase 2 of the national rollout of 100 Mbps broadband services
- Under Action 213, IDA Ireland also exceeded its new jobs gross target for 2013; 13,367 new jobs were created by client companies; the net increase in employment was 7,071, the highest level of job creation in over a decade
- Under Action 257, three food related Ministerial Trade and Investment Missions were undertaken in Q4 2013, to the US, Japan and the Gulf States. The Japanese trip resulted in the opening of the Japanese market to Irish beef; this market is valued at €12-15 million