The government has launched an “action plan” to help to boost Ireland’s manufacturing sector.

Under the Action Plan for Jobs — a government campaign to raise awareness about financial support of the sector — manufacturers will be available to access grants, reskilling initiatives and training funds.

“Manufacturing is a key area which we have targeted as part of our Action Plan for Jobs,” Richard Bruton, the minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation, said. “This is an area which was neglected in previous decades as governments seemed to adopt a view that it was not an appropriate target for Ireland in a ‘knowledge economy’ era.

“The reality is that manufacturing must form a key part of a successful industrial strategy for Ireland. It is export intensive. It brings excellent capacity for employment across all regions of the country, and in a range of skill levels.

“Furthermore, there are many parts of manufacturing where Ireland has huge potential for growth, including advanced manufacturing, 3D printing, precision engineering and manufacturing in specific sectors like food and life sciences,” he added.

In the decade between 1998 and 2008, there was a huge loss of competitiveness in the Irish economy, with a subsequent drop in the number of manufacturing jobs. Over the past seven years, competitiveness has been restored through a reduction in labour costs, as well as other spending. Total employment in the manufacturing sector has increased by 12,800 to 218,000 over the past two years and the government said that it hopes to substantially increase this number.

“That is why manufacturing has played a key part in the Action Plan for Jobs since 2012, and why we developed and implemented a specific strategy for the manufacturing sector,” Mr Bruton said.

“As part of these plans to grow manufacturing, it has become clear that one issue that businesses repeatedly face is difficulties accessing information on the range of government supports that are available in the sector. That is why we committed, as part of the Action Plan for Jobs, to develop a new, user-friendly, comprehensive guide to those supports.”

Government agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and the IDA will be used to disseminate information to manufacturing companies.