IRELAND will have more that two million people in paid employment by the end of the year, according to the Small Firms Association (SFA).
The SFA’s 11th National Employment Survey indicates that 49% of firms have vacancies and that the sector will create a record 61,003 jobs this year up 60% from the 36,283 jobs created in 2004.
SFA director Pat Delaney said the results confirm that the prospects for employment are strong and that the small business sector continues to be the fulcrum of employment creation.
Mr Delaney said the results confirm that employment prospects are more positive than last year and the general outlook for the Irish economy remains favourable.
“On these projections the economy has a lot to look forward to. For the first time in our history Ireland will soon have in excess of two million people at work.
“However, we must be vigilant and ensure that we maintain existing jobs. If we create over 60,003 new jobs, we must also ensure that we do not lose 23,372 as we did last year, Mr Delaney said.
In 2004 the economy shed 450 jobs every week, he added.
Mr Delaney believes the results are a further demonstration that given an economic environment committed to low inflation, low taxes and low interest rates, small business will respond by creating jobs and boosting economic growth.
“These figures put the economy back in the halcyon days of 2000 when 64,000 jobs were created. In 2004 36,131 new jobs were created while the corresponding figure in 2003 was just 17,420. The survey shows that although the labour market is tighter, with 75% of companies reporting difficulties in filling vacancies. This is not increasing pressure on wage rates as 62% of companies have increased pay rates to attract new staff, down from 64% in 2004 and 66% in 2003,” he said.
The SFA also expect redundancy figures to fall this year, with just 3% of manufacturing companies expecting to make staff redundant, down from 12% in 2004.
Mr Delaney said just 6% of companies state that they will place employees on shorter working weeks or have short term lay-offs over the coming year. However, the retail sector shows the greatest exposure in this area at 10%.
“Of those sectors with vacancies, the services sector has the highest demand at 57%. All sectors through manufacturing, distribution, retail and services, reported increased vacancies over the previous year.
“The demand for skilled labour among respondents has increased to 25% of companies in 2005, up from 21% in 2004. However, lack of skills was cited by 46% of respondents as a difficulty in filling vacancies. Demand for general operatives has increased slightly to 14% from 13% in 2004,”