Policies to help entrepreneurs flourish
Entrepreneur The business climate in Ireland has recoverered very strongly from the crisis years. Our challenge now, is to get the right talent into the fields of entrepreneurship and self-employment and there are a number policy points we are calling on the Government to address.
We are growing jobs faster than any other business community in Europe. Brexit remains the big unknown and is central to so much in the business environment but we are approaching the challenge from a position of strength. The consumer is back in a big way: there is no inflation, there is strong income growth, household income is growing at about five per cent annually and unemployment has fallen from 15 to 6 per cent.
Household income in Ireland is growing at about 5% annually and unemployment has fallen from 15% to 6%
There are a number policy points we are calling on the Government to address to get the right talent into the fields of entrepreneurship and self-employment.
The first of these is a fairer tax system for entrepreneurs. Government rhetoric has not been matched by detailed improvements. The self-employed are discriminated against and we believe they should be treated in the same way as their PAYE counterparts. Capital gains tax (CGT) is far higher than internationally and we need to close the gap between Ireland and the UK, in particular, otherwise we risk people relocating to the UK where it is easier to raise finance and where CGT is less onerous.
We also need to look into relaxing regulations around share options: when companies start up, cash is usually very tight and they can’t afford big salaries. This should be a tax efficient way to foster employees.
Greater emphasis should also be put on the STEM subject education
We also need to look at the area of education to create a culture more condusive to entrepreneurs, which fosters them from an early age. Not enough attention is paid to teaching young people that they are able to create a job for themselves. It’s not good enough to leave this until they get to business school: it should be started much earlier. And greater emphasis should also be put on the STEM subjects that will be so useful to them, alongside modern languages. Capacity constraints are becoming acute as office accommodation is expensive and we need targeted office space for entrepreneurs.
We need to improve information flow, developing a whole ecosystem of support that can be accessed online. We need to build on what is already there, digitising it, building up mentoring programmes and making information and support more centralised in an easily accessible way.
We also need to tap into specific groups who don’t currently get the opportunities that would lead them to become successful entrepreneurs: participation in the labour market is low in Ireland and the high cost of childcare and other issues means that female labour market participation is particularly low in comparison to many other EU countries. We need to tap into their potential, as well as the migrants who come here who have good entrepreneurial instincts.
We need to do more to help older people who want to start their own business
The ageing workforce is another challenge: the over 65 population is set to double over the next 15 years and we need to do more to help older people who want to start their own business. The key is to try to get real momentum on policy levers to drive a much more positive environment for entrepreneurs.