Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ceisteanna (244)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

244. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the progress to date on the implementation plans for jobs for the midlands region by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11864/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The recently published CSO Labour Force Survey employment figures for Q4 2018, which are only available at the regional level, show that there has been excellent progress in employment growth in the Midlands region since the launch of the Regional Action Plan for Jobs 2015-2017. 

From Q1 2015 (baseline year) to Q4 2018, there are 20,000 more people in employment in the Midlands, representing an increase of 18.5 percent.

Unemployment has more than halved over the same period from 14.9 percent to 6.6 percent.  This is a substantial and welcome reduction, although there is more progress yet to be achieved to bring unemployment down to within one percentage point of the State average (5.4%).

The Enterprise Agencies under the remit of my Department continue to work to contribute to employment and economic growth in the Midlands and throughout all regions. New job creation results for 2018 on a county by county basis for the Midlands are set out in Table 1.

Table 1: Numbers employed in client companies and 2018 increase (in brackets)

County

Enterprise Ireland

IDA Ireland

Local Enterprise Offices

Laois

1,527   (+83)

122   (-12)

635   (+67)

Longford

2,979   (+113)

900  (+155)

1,195   (+70)

Offaly

4,307   (+252)

1,232   (+65)

1,063   (+6)

Westmeath

3,536   (+35) 

3,466   (+493)

1,172  (+66)

Under the recently launched Regional Enterprise Plans to 2020, I and my Department 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.

As well as meeting the numerical targets, this is also about creating jobs that are of good quality and sustainable over the longer term in line with the Government’s objectives under Future Jobs Ireland which was launched on 10 March.

The new Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan to 2020, which I launched on 6th February in Mountmellick, Co. Laois, is focused around seven ‘Strategic Objectives’ which will drive enterprise and job creation:

- Strategic Objective 1: Ensure that the Midlands is well positioned to address the challenges posed by the transition to a low carbon economy and renewable energy;  

- Strategic Objective 2: Leverage opportunities in big data and data analytics from iLOFAR;

- Strategic Objective 3: Position and support the growth of the Midlands as an advanced manufacturing centre of excellence;

- Strategic Objective 4: Enhance the collective offering of the Midlands as a place to live, work and invest in;

- Strategic Objective 5: Strengthen the attractiveness of the Midlands as a destination to visit;

- Strategic Objective 6: Harness the potential of the food and beverage industry in the Midlands; and

- Strategic Objective 7: Ensure the availability of skills and talent to realise the Midlands’ economic potential and address upskilling requirements.

The Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan Steering Committee has now begun the process to drive delivery of the actions within the new Plan, in consultation with and overseen by my Department.