There are a couple of common myths around jobs and opportunity. The first myth is that the rising tide lifts all boats. It doesn’t. The economic turnaround driven by Labour while we were in Government had a huge effect in terms of creating jobs and raising living standards. But growth alone won’t do it.
The second myth is that if governments simply get out of the way, businesses will be free to create all the jobs a society needs. In fact, businesses depend in a whole range of areas on progressive Government policy to create the right conditions to boost employment. And in the same way, progressive governments intervene to help those who are furthest from the labour market and find it difficult to find employment.
Those two realities have underpinned everything Labour has done on the jobs front. We added jobs and reduced unemployment by more than a third while we were in government. And we are continuing to support providing jobs and opportunities out of government.
One successful example of progressive Government intervention to help employers and jobseekers alike is JobsPlus. Under the JobsPlus scheme, we help meet the wage costs of employers who recruit persons who have been long-term unemployed.
Thousands of jobseekers have returned to work under that scheme – the majority of whom had been out of work for two years or more. The rising tide may not necessarily have helped them. Labour while in Government did – and helped employers at the same time. We want to take this further, in our Alternative Budget we proposed adding an extra 2,000 Jobs Plus places for those who are long term unemployed; as well as a 10% increase in the materials and training grant to Community Employment Schemes. Even further we proposed Universal Access Trial to Community Employment and Tus, to help those who are locked out of the jobs market in Ireland. These are just a few of Labour’s proposals in the Alternative Budget showing our commitment to creating jobs and opportunity for the people of Ireland. That’s because we are the party of work, the party of working people, and the party of opportunity.