Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
211. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which he expects increased employment opportunities to dovetail with fall offs in Covid-19 support payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30412/21]
Our Economic Recovery Plan, published this week, sets an ambitious target to exceed pre-crisis employment levels by having 2.5 million people in work by 2024 and in more productive and resilient jobs.
The EWSS has been extended to the end of the year to support businesses to retain employment as they re-open by subsiding a portion of labour costs which gives businesses the opportunity to trade profitably even when operating under public health guidelines which may constrain demand. The PUP has also been extended to the autumn but will be gradually phased out as we reopen our economy and society.
As we enter a recovery phase, we must target resources to re-building our economy. It must be recognised that not all previous jobs will return, while capacity constraints may emerge in other areas. The Economic Recovery Plan commits to significant investment in training, reskilling, upskilling and providing more places in apprenticeships and education to ensure people are supported to secure and remain in sustainable and quality employment and are prepared for new opportunities presented by digital transformation and the green transition.
The government is committed to creating the right environment for a jobs-led recovery by setting out a renewed package of supports and investments; helping business become more resilient, innovative and productive; improving Ireland’s competitiveness; and through a focus on expanding sectors and leveraging green and digital opportunities.
Both domestic SMEs and multinational companies will play a significant role in reaching our overall employment target. The pandemic has seen significant adaptability, innovation, digitalisation and diversification by businesses and this Plan builds on this through strategic policies and investment in infrastructure and reforms that enhance our capability and long-term capacity for growth.
212. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which he expects job opportunities in the construction sector to increase over the next three months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30413/21]
The construction sector was negatively impacted following the introduction of restrictions late last year. The number of individuals from the construction sector claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) rose steadily in the early weeks of the year and reached a high of 62,902 claimants on the 9th February this year.
The phased reopening of the construction sector, beginning on 12th April with the recommencement of all residential construction projects, saw a sizeable decline in the number of PUP claimants. The full reopening of all construction on 4th May saw further improvements and the number of PUP claimants from the construction sector has now more than halved, with only 28,758 claims related to the construction sector on the 25th May and a further decline of 2,278 on the 1st June.
This shows that more and more construction workers have returned to work as employment opportunities appeared due to the reduction of public health restrictions on the construction sector. Based on this trend it is likely that the number of individuals from the construction sector claiming PUP will continue to decline over the coming weeks.
It is also worth noting that the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) has been an important measure that has helped maintain employment in the sector during the pandemic.
As was the case with PUP, the number of employees in the construction sector that were supported by the EWSS increased sharply in January 2021. This vital scheme continues to provide valuable financial assistance to employers and has helped ensure employees remain within the sector, with almost 37,600 employees participating in April 2021.