The recently published Q4 2018 CSO Labour Force Survey employment figures are overall very positive. Figures show that overall, employment continues to grow strongly with 50,500 jobs created in the year from Q4 2017 to Q4 2018. This brings total employment to 2,281,300, the highest number at work ever recorded.
The additional jobs created in 2018 in the West and the Midlands regions are set out in Table 1 below:
Change in the number of persons aged 15 years and over in employment from Q4 2017 to Q4 2018
Change Q4 2017 to Q4 2018
Source: CSO Labour Force Survey, Q4 2018
Both the Midlands and the West regions have shown excellent progress in employment levels over the period of the Regional Action Plan for Jobs 2015-2017.
From Q1 2015 (baseline year) to Q4 2018, a total of 20,000 more people are in employment in the Midlands to Q4 2018, while in the West, 28,400 more people have entered employment.
Unemployment has more than halved in both the Midlands and the West over the same period: from 12.6 percent to 5.8 percent in the West; and from 14.9 percent to 6.6 percent in the Midlands.
We remain committed to achieving an overall jobs uplift of between 10 and 15 per cent in each region by 2020 and to bring and/or maintain unemployment levels in each region to within at least one percentage point of the State average.
To that end, in April 2018, I asked all the Regional Action Plan for Jobs Implementation Committees, including in the Midlands and West regions, to start a process to refresh and refocus all Regional Plans to ensure their relevance and impact out to 2020, so that they continue to deliver jobs across the country, in every region, and can be robust to address the challenges we face, including Brexit.
The outcome of this refresh process is nine new Regional Enterprise Plans to 2020, which build on the very strong progress made on employment creation under the Regional Action Plan for Jobs 2015-2017. I am currently in the process of launching the new Plans, with eight Plans launched to date, including for the West and Midlands.
Shaped from the ‘bottom-up’ by regional stakeholders, and overseen by my Department, the new Regional Enterprise Plans to 2020 complement national level policies and programmes emanating from the ‘top-down’ and, there is strong alignment with Ireland’s national enterprise policy, Enterprise 2025 Renewed and the forthcoming Future Jobs Ireland initiative.
The principle behind the Regional Enterprise Plans is collaboration between regional stakeholders on initiatives that can help to realise the region’s enterprise development potential so that all regions can meet and exceed the regional job creation targets set to 2020. These stakeholders include: the Local Authorities, the LEOs, the enterprise agencies, the Regional Skills Forum, tourism bodies, private sector ‘enterprise champions’, and others.
It is also important to note that as well as meeting the numerical targets, it is also about creating jobs that are of good quality and sustainable over the longer term.
The Government is focused on this agenda at the national level through the Future Jobs Ireland initiative, and we are focused on this agenda through these new Regional Enterprise Plans.