I propose to take Questions Nos. 102, 103 and 112 together.
In December 2008, I met with Mr. Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell Inc. in Austin, Texas. Mr. Dell was accompanied by a number of his senior managers. I was accompanied by the Minister for Defence, the Secretary General of my Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and by the Chief Executive of IDA Ireland. The purpose of the meeting was to seek an update on implementation of Dell's new corporate strategy and in particular the company's plans for the future of their operations in Ireland, in particular in Limerick. At the meeting, the company confirmed that it was pushing ahead with its cost saving plan and that weakening demand and associated cost pressures continued to put pressure on the company to implement its new strategy.
I communicated to the company the significant benefits which the Limerick operation brings to the company, the city and the region. I undertook, on behalf of the Government, to provide whatever assistance I could to Dell with a view to retaining a significant Dell presence in Limerick and maximising its future presence there. For its part the company expressed its wish to continue to work with the IDA and the Government, and agreed to contact us as soon as it had finalised its detailed plans for the Limerick operations.
Following the announcement by Dell to reduce its Limerick workforce, I announced the creation of a Task Force to address the affect of the Dell decision at a regional level. The Task Force, which is chaired by Mr. Denis Brosnan and has Mr. Vincent Cunnane of Shannon Development as CEO, is already under way and it held its first meeting in Limerick some weeks ago. I am meeting the Task Force later this week and, in its work, the Task Force can call on support and inputs from my Department, Forfás and the Industrial Development agencies.
I have met with all of the State development agencies, under the auspices of my Department, in the context of the job losses to take place at Dell as well as other job losses in the Region, and I am satisfied that they are working in a fully coordinated manner to take the appropriate actions to support the workers at Dell in finding new employment, including assistance to re-skill and re-train to enhance their future employment potential. In this respect, IDA has been working diligently to secure new investments and over the last year companies like Vistakon, Zimmer, Cook, DTS and Microsemi have had announcements in the Region. The Agency currently has a pipeline of projects under consideration. These potential investments are being pursued and IDA Ireland will do everything possible to speed up the investment decisions in Limerick's favour.
The investment projects which IDA is seeking to attract to Limerick today are much different to those of the past, relying principally on the skills of its people and on a strong business and educational infrastructure to pull investment to the county. IDA's strategy is to re-position the region as a hotspot for knowledge based industry, while focusing on marketing Limerick as a key location for investment by building on the strengths already evident in the county. IDA is also working closely with the existing base of employers to encourage additional investment, particularly in activities such as R&D, customer support and back office functions. IDA works closely with Shannon Development in the provision of suitable property solutions for potential investors to the county.
Enterprise Ireland is specifically targeting potential business start-ups through the following supports & programmes:
Dedicated Opportunities Fair to be held in March in Limerick to encompass all Enterprise, Employment and Education institutions together with private and voluntary sector organisations including financial Institutions, Mabs, Citizens Information and recruitment agencies.
New collaborative Information brochure detailing contacts, business Start-Up supports and financial assistance available via EI and the CEBs.
New series of one & two night seminars & workshops throughout the Mid-West commencing in March to provide individuals with information on enterprise start & identification of new business opportunities.
A new EI led 6 week part-time Enterprise Start Programme to commence at the EI funded Enterprise Acceleration Centre at LIT in February to facilitate individuals to explore Business Start-Up as a new career option.
A new 12 month Enterprise Platform Programme to commence at LIT in April to assist individuals to commercialise existing business ideas
One-to-one meeting facility for individuals interested in business start-up from locally based EI regional development executives.
In addition, EI is addressing the challenges facing the sub-supply base in the Mid-west with a dedicated sub-supplier event in April to facilitate supply companies to explore new opportunities, new business leads & new markets with assistance from EI's overseas market network.
In preparation for job losses at Dell, FÁS Mid-west had put in place a team to deal specifically with redundancies in Dell and other companies in the Region. As an initial step, the following services have been offered to Dell employees:
Group Briefing Sessions for staff to outline the range of FÁS Services available to them.
Individual one to one guidance interviews to include:
Identification of current qualifications and job requirements.
Provision of information on job opportunities, Mid-west, national and EU
Identification of upskilling training requirements
Provision of a broad range of training programmes in response.
Referral to educational providers where appropriate
Referral to Enterprise Boards regarding Start Your Own Business initiatives, where appropriate.
FÁS will be hosting Training/Job Opportunities events in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. These events will have local, national and European vacancies on display as well as employers in attendance. Also, FÁS, Enterprise Ireland and the City and County Enterprise Boards, University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology have now developed a web portal to assist people who find themselves out of work in the Mid-West. This web portal will guide people through the initial orientation process into new opportunities. Through this coordinated approach, the affiliated organisations are ensuring that no valuable time is lost and people will get clear and comprehensive individual guidance. The web portal will provide information and direct access to designated contact people within the organisations.