Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs Willie O’Dea has said the Government is failing to tackle the unemployment crisis in the country and new figures from the Central Statistics Office show the problem is continuing to deteriorate.

Deputy O’Dea said: “Today’s figures show an annual decrease in employment of over 18,000 in the 12 months to the end of March.  The number of people now in work in the State is down to 1,786,100.  The number of people in employment fell by 7,300 in the first three months of the year, despite an increase in employment of 11,100 in the last three months of 2011.  The crisis is getting worse and the Government is not doing enough.

“We have seen the Government have three major attempts at stimulating job creation through the Jobs Initiative, the Action Plan on Jobs and the Budget.  All of the efforts have failed to kick-start the domestic economy and in particular the VAT increase made matters worse and the banks are not lending enough to small businesses and are refusing to take any risk to help the domestic economy.

“The Quarterly National Household Survey from the CSO shows that almost 310,000 people are out of work.  The seasonally adjusted rate of joblessness is now 14.8% of the workforce.  What I believe is an extremely serious problem is the number of people now long-term unemployed, up from 7.8 per cent in 2011 to almost 9% at the beginning of this year.  It is well known and understood that the longer a person is out of the work the harder it is for them to get back into employment.

“The government needs to meet the scale of this crisis with real action that will make a real difference in the domestic economy.  For our part Fianna Fáil has brought forward a strategy to tackle youth unemployment.  Some of the measures we are calling for include 100,000 new information and communications technology training places over the next four years and an additional 5,000 JobBridge placements for those under 25.  We are also proposing radical reform of education, welfare and employment services.  In this spirit, we are proposing an immediate pilot scheme introducing education and training vouchers.

“I am calling on the government to take these proposals seriously and to take swift action on the unemployment crisis and take immediate action to stimulate the domestic economy and support small businesses.  We are not seeing credit flow to small businesses from the banks and the costs putting pressure on companies are not being addressed.”