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Job Losses.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 6 December 2005

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Ceisteanna (246, 247, 248, 249)

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

293 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the countries to which Irish jobs have been relocated in the past three years; if the underlying causes have been identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38219/05]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

300 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of manufacturing jobs lost through relocation to other economies in each of the past five years including the current year to date in 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38228/05]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 293 and 300 together.

The Forfás employment survey tracks employment levels in agency-assisted companies on an annual basis. However, factors influencing a decision to relocate all or part of a firm's function are many, varied and complex. Many of these are outside the direct influence of Government policymakers and may include business takeovers or consolidations, changes in product or market focus, in addition to relative wage rates and other costs and incentives. Relocation is just one factor in the many enterprise-related issues that determine employment levels — the life cycle of companies also influences the ebb and flow of employment. Accordingly it is not possible to determine the employment change arising from relocation or indeed the destination countries for any such relocation.

Ireland no longer operates as a low cost location for investment. Our strengths and competitive advantages have inexorably changed. Ireland's economy is now characterised by high output and productivity, together with high returns to labour in the form of wages, salaries and better living standards. Low technology production, which dominated our economic output in the past, is being replaced by higher technology and services enterprises. Inevitably, more attractive cost environments abroad will entice some firms that are unable to generate their required return from the modern enterprise economy into which we are evolving.

A continuing structural transformation of our economy is both unavoidable and necessary to maintain present levels of growth and high employment. Part of this transformation entails some inevitable plant transfers and other adjustments, but where relocation has occurred to date, it has largely been confined to relatively low technology, labour-intensive activities.

To meet the challenge from lower cost competitor economies, our policy is to encourage companies' development to higher levels of competitiveness and value added products and services. Our priority is on the creation of sustainable employment. Such employment will be driven by companies that have higher profitability, are more technologically advanced and prove a better fit with the competitive characteristics of our economy. Such companies are consequently less likely to move on the basis of simple cost influences. We are continuing to develop those infrastructures, both physical and intellectual, to create and maintain an attractive environment for investment and expansion in Ireland. Such investment will be sourced by a combination of developing existing clients and new investors in existing or new activities or sectors. Given the critical mass of FDI in Ireland and its linkages with indigenous companies, one of the greatest potential contributions will ensue from the development of companies already operating here. The enterprise development agencies are continuing to encourage companies to undertake more sophisticated activities, reducing the likelihood of our competitive advantage being eroded by cost based competition.

Questions Nos. 294 and 295 answered with Question No. 90.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

296 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the alternative employment which has been provided for the former workforce at a factory (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38224/05]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

297 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to find alternative employment for the workforce of a business (details supplied) in County Kildare when the business relocates; the cause or causes for the relocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38225/05]

Amharc ar fhreagra

I propose to take Questions Nos. 296 and 297 together.

As part of its operational responsibilities, FÁS engages closely with companies whose workers are made redundant. The agency assists affected workers to plan new careers, identify training needs and secure alternative employment. It also refers workers to training programmes and establishes special or customised programmes where necessary. In this regard, I understand that FÁS has been very actively involved with both of the companies in question.

The company in Naas announced a major restructuring and upgrading of its operations earlier this year. However, its commitment to Naas continues and this is evidenced by a new €4 million investment designed to ensure that the company becomes a centre of excellence for its core electro-chromic mirror product. While loss-making products have been moved away from Naas, I understand from IDA Ireland that the company has no further plans to relocate any of its operations at present.

Kildare continues to thrive across a broad range of activities in the housing, commercial, services and industrial sectors. As a result, many job opportunities are being created within the county. Some 25 IDA client companies are located in County Kildare employing 10,109 permanent staff. In 2004, significant developments in overseas investment were announced including multi-million euro investments in wafer fabrication and a technology development centre by Intel and Hewlett Packard respectively. The announcement last January by Green Isle Foods of a €22.6 million expansion investment, which is now under way, will lead to the creation of 130 additional jobs in Naas from a current base of 630. This project is supported by Enterprise Ireland and, employment in EI client companies in the county has increased by 46% over the past ten years, from 3,972 to 5,784. This growth is significantly better that the national average.

On 5 May last, I performed the official opening of the office of International Fund Services (Ireland) Limited at Naas, County Kildare. Located in Millennium Park, the Naas facility is on target to employ 140 people by the end of 2005 and 240 by the end of 2006. In September, I opened the first phase of a new €40 million business park in Athy. While it will be known as the Athy Business Campus, I expect that it will have positive implications for both Athy and the wider Kildare region.

Kildare has also benefited from a significant investment in technological infrastructure at the university in Maynooth. Particular efforts are being made to ensure that the university continues to develop strong links with industry. Over the past three years, more than €3.3 million has been approved to support innovation partnerships between industry and the college.

I am satisfied that the agencies under the aegis of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, together with local business interests, will continue to provide good quality training and employment in County Kildare.

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