Enterprise development and sustainable job creation in the regions is a key policy priority of this Government. A total of 17,000 more people in the South-East are in employment in Q2 2019 than in Q1 2015 when the Regional Action Plan for Jobs started and unemployment in the South East has reduced from 11.7 percent to 8.1 percent in the same period.
While we have had great success through the Action Plan for Jobs in reducing unemployment, in the context of Brexit and other global challenges, we need to also focus on the creation of quality and sustainable jobs. Future Jobs Ireland is our plan to meet these challenges. Launched last March, it includes ambitious targets and actions to drive this transformation of our economy.
In the South East, there are 15,580 people employed across 76 IDA Ireland client companies in 2018. This is an increase of almost 7% over 2017. The IDA will continue to work to identify opportunities for new investment or expansion in the South-East, promoting the region's strengths including the existing concentrations of financial services, IT and high-value manufacturing activities.
In 2018, there were 25,278 people employed in EI supported companies in the South-East, up 5% from 2017. 'Powering the Regions' is Enterprise Ireland's new regional plan which sets out the focus of its activities in each region, including a specific strategy for the South East. There was a net increase of 461 jobs supported by the five South East LEOs during 2018.
I launched the South-East Regional Plan last March in Waterford, with Strategic Objectives focused on: building enterprise resilience; marketing the region; a regional engagement strategy on key infrastructure priorities; ensuring the South East is a learning region; and tourism growth.
The Government has put several funding streams in place to support regional development, and the South-East has seen a number of successes, including under my Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF). Under the REDF to date, the South-East region has secured total funding of over €10 million. In June 2019, I announced a further €45m Call 3 of the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) and it is my intention that the successful projects will be announced before the end of the year.
Guided by the Regional Enterprise Plan, and with all regional stakeholders working together, the South-East is well positioned to realise its enterprise potential and see better quality, sustainable jobs and investment.