Written Answers. - Job Creation.

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

57 Mr. Sheehan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress she has made towards providing an industrial factory for the town of Dunmanway, County Cork to fill the vacuum created by the closure of a factory (details supplied). [7146/01]

The Dunmanway Inter Agency Task Force was established in response to the announced closure of the facility with effect from 11 February 2000 with the loss of 113 jobs. The task force is chaired by IDA Ireland and comprises representatives from Enterprise Ireland, FÁS, the county enterprise board and the county manager for west Cork. The main focus for the task force is on attracting a replacement industry and providing assistance to employees, such as advice on alternative career opportunities and training and retraining courses.

The factory was purchased by O'Flynn Construction on 31 August 2000. This company has developed major office parks such as the University Technology Park in Cork and the Eastgate Business Park at Little Island. IDA Ireland has collaborated with O'Flynn Construction to produce a colour brochure to advertise the factory. O'Flynn Construction has also taken out a half page advertisement in the national newspapers to promote the factory. IDA Ireland has supplied lists of companies which they consider may be interested in the factory, including contacts in IDA Ireland overseas offices world-wide, and contacts within IDA's Ireland's operating divisions. Copies of the new brochure have been made available to the Dunmanway Employment Initiative Group.

A small number of visits has been generated but, so far, there has been no positive interest in the factory. However, vigorous efforts are continuing to be made to secure a tenant.

One of the major difficulties in promoting the factory is that the skill set of the former work-force is mainly related to the textile industry – cutting and sewing operations, and 80% of new employment opportunities arising in the south-west region come from three sources – pharmaceuticals and health care international service operations and electronics. Textile skills have been in decline throughout the nation, except for niche markets.

In February 2000, FÁS staff attended the factory to register 103 employees who indicated an interest in FÁS courses or employment opportunities.

On 21-22 March 2000, FÁS attended Dunmanway to register participants for a return to work-ECDL course. This course ran from 10 April to 14 July, with 24 participants. On completion of the course, 11 participants were placed in employment. Others expressed an interest in further training. However, there has been a poor response to the FÁS follow-up survey from these participants.

On 4-5 September, 2000, FÁS attended Dunmanway to register participants for a second return to work-ECDL course. This course did not generate the same enthusiasm and FÁS was unable to fill this course. The course commenced on 25 October 2000 and finished in January 2001, with 22 participants. Two of the participants were from the former plant.

The inter-agency group had a meeting on 16 February 2001, and it was decided that FÁS would carry-out a postal survey of the former employees in March to determine the numbers who had obtained employment and those interested in further training opportunities.
An examination of the unemployment register in Dunmanway has revealed that 236 persons were unemployed as at January 2001, as opposed to 267 persons for the corresponding period in January 2000, a fall of 11.6% in unemployment. The unemployment register of 236 persons consisted of 98 males and 138 females.
Both IDA Ireland and FÁS maintain on-going contact with the Dunmanway Employment Initiative. IDA Ireland continues to promote Dunmanway for potential overseas investment.