The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) has warned against complacency following the latest CSO figures which show a slight reduction in unemployment.
While welcoming the drop, the ISME has called on the Government to address the uncompetitive business costs and generous social welfare benefits in the battle to maintain and create jobs in the SME sector.
The association notes that “comparable costs and social assistance in our competitors are creating an advantage for them in our markets and constraining recovery in Ireland”.
According to ISME Chief Executive, Mark Fielding, “the slight reduction in the headline unemployment figures masks the true level of unemployment which is under-reported through increased emigration, increased participation on state training initiatives and a significant rise in individuals remaining in education. The true picture in the jobs market is that well over half a million of our citizens are out of work.
The ISME says a full benchmark and overhaul of all government influence business costs is needed along with a full review of labour market inhibitors, including a reduction in state assistance for those who refuse job offers.
The ISME is also calling for greater incentives for small businesses to compensate for the cost of on-the-job training and a revisiting of the Croke Park agreement
“The reality is that, after a year in power, this Government has promised a lot but delivered little. They must first realise that a complete overhaul of our competitiveness is where the real work has to be done. The drive must be to reduce state costs while the private sector increases productivity. SME job creation will then follow,” said Mr Fielding.