Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Questions (15, 16)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

11 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the steps he is taking to offset recent job losses by prioritising job creation in Border counties and in the south east in view of the disproportionate impact of job losses in these areas. [4127/12]

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Michael Colreavy

Question:

28 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will detail the way in which he will offset recent regional job losses with job creation within the relevant region. [4131/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 28 together.

As Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, I am acutely aware of the number of jobs lost in recent years in every region of the country and I fully appreciate the impact of these job losses, not just on the employees concerned and their families, but also on the wider community. Therefore, job creation is at the top of the Government's agenda. Since we came into office, we have been working hard to create the improved economic conditions which will support the maintenance of existing jobs and the creation of new ones. Our objective is to put the country back on the road to economic recovery and full employment.

While in the past, Task Forces have been used as part of the response to particular regional job loss crises, in more recent years the concept of an Interagency Response Group has been advanced. This type of initiative worked well in relation to a particular job loss situation in the border region recently where representatives of relevant agencies such as EI, IDA, FÁS and the County Enterprise Board came together to provide a comprehensive suite of supports to those affected by job loss.

Last month, in recognition of the particular impact of the economic downturn on the South East Region, I published the South East Employment Action Plan, a key part of which was that a clear priority would be assigned to the region by the State enterprise agencies under the remit of my Department. While the region's problems will not be addressed overnight, my plan to bring employment to the South East is a recognition that the structural challenges in the region can only be addressed through a concerted process over several years involving Government, political, community, and other stakeholders in the region.

Other national efforts such as the Jobs Initiative, announced on 10 May 2011, concentrated on the measures that offered the greatest potential for expansion and employment creation in the domestic economy, particularly tourism which offers real opportunities in the Border and South East regions. Promoting regional balance is an important objective for our enterprise agencies. IDA has a target of securing 50% of all its investments in locations outside of Dublin and Cork. Research clusters which back up sectoral opportunities are spread widely across the country and seek to develop a competitive advantage in different regions and the County Enterprise Board structure is designed to support enterprise in each county.

In relation to the work of the enterprise development agencies, approximately 62% of Enterprise Ireland client companies are located outside Dublin. These companies employ around 137,000 people of which 67% are located in the regions. Of the 79 investments announced by the IDA in 2011, 37 were located in the Regions outside of Dublin and Cork. These announcements alone have the potential to create more than 3,000 jobs.