Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
238. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which technology, education and the availability of suitable business and housing accommodation continue to be an issue in regard to the creation of further employment nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44643/20]
Access to high quality broadband, a well-educated labour force and a well-functioning housing market were recently highlighted by the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council in its Competitiveness Challenge 2020 Report. The Council is an independent body that operates under the aegis of my Department.
These factors were seen by the Council as critical elements for a successful economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19 and a related improvement in employment levels.
The Government recognises the importance and value of the Council’s work in assessing Ireland’s competitiveness and is committed to addressing the Council’s recommendations. This can be seen in the Government's response to the Challenge Report which was published at the end of November.
In its response the Government outlined the steps it is taking to deal with the issues outlined in the Deputy's question.
In the area of technology, the National Broadband Plan (NBP) is a critical infrastructural project which will ensure that every citizen and business, no matter where they are based, can progress together. As part of the plan over 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are currently being deployed. Many of these BCPs will provide remote working capacity in rural areas
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an extraordinary impact on the labour market. The Government’s immediate priority has been to prevent unemployment becoming entrenched and efforts are ongoing to reskill workers from sectors that are not likely to recover quickly.
The July Stimulus and Budget 2021 provided additional funding for upskilling initiatives and life-long learning programmes that will help workers prepare for job opportunities in a more digital and sustainable future economy.
SOLAS has been tasked with the development of a new 10-year strategy for adult literacy, numeracy and digital literacy. The strategy will take a whole-of government approach and provide a framework to support individuals to improve their literacy, numeracy and digital literacy.
In the area of Housing, the Programme for Government has committed to prioritising the increased supply of public and social housing through local authority schemes and Approved Housing Bodies.
Affordable home ownership will be supported by a state backed Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme, expansion of the Help to Buy Scheme, and broadening the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan programme.
These measures along with others the Government is implementing as part of the Programme for Government will help ensure the continued competitiveness of the Irish economy, that in turn will help sustain and grow employment over the coming years.