The latest Central Statistics Office figures, released today (Tuesday, 26th November), showing a rise in the number of those in work are positive but the Government’s focus must remain on the creation of decent jobs, according to SIPTU Policy Analyst, Lorraine Mulligan. “There was an annual increase in employment of 3.2% or 58,000 in the year to the third quarter of 2013, bringing total employment to 1,899,300,” Loraine Mulligan said.“The fact that the numbers of those in work has increased and that the unemployment rate has fallen from 13.6% to 12.8% in the last quarter gives some hope that the economy is gaining positive momentum.  The rate of long-term unemployment has declined from 8.9% to 7.6% but the Government must increase its efforts to ensure the nearly 300,000 people without employment are provided with meaningful pathways into work.“The challenge to ensure workers receive adequate pay and have sufficient hours remains. It is important to ensure workers have real options rather than having to take up precarious jobs.”She added: “The unemployment rate among those aged 15 to 24 years has declined from 31.1% to 26.5% over the year to the third quarter of 2013 but the numbers remain unacceptably high. SIPTU believes that the creation of a new national apprenticeship/traineeship scheme, as part of a ‘Youth Guarantee’ programme, would provide young people who are currently unemployed with the skills to secure decent work.“Such a scheme would also re-train workers for the green economy and promote professional standards.  This shift would help underpin a long term sustainable economic recovery in Ireland.”