The South East Action Plan for Jobs, aimed at delivering 10-15% employment growth in the region over the coming years has been launched by the Government.
The Plan is the third of 8 regional jobs plans to be published over the coming months, as part of a new €250million regional jobs strategy led by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD.
The project to develop jobs plans for each of the 8 regions was in part born out of the success of the previous pioneering South East Plan process, established by Minister Bruton after the sudden job losses in Talk Talk in Waterford in 2011 and in response to the historic unemployment challenges in the South East region. Since 2012 the South East has had the fastest rate of jobs growth of any region in the country, with 25,300 extra jobs created in the region in 3 years, representing a 13.9% increase.
The new South East Plan builds on and expands this process, covering counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. Key sectors targeted as part of the plan include agri-food, tourism, life sciences, manufacturing, retail and financial services/business services. Among the 194 actions in the plan to be delivered over the period 2015-2017 include:
- Start-ups/SMEs – a 30% increase in the number of new businesses, delivered by a range of actions to provide better mentoring and incubation spaces for startups, and extra supports through the Local Enterprise Offices
- Multinational investment – a 30-40% increase in investments by overseas companies in the region by 2019, meaning at least 44 investments in the region over the coming years. Delivered through measures including three new advance facilities, improvements in marketing including a South East Enterprise Conference, a campaign to encourage Dublin-based MNCs to establish satellite offices in the South East, and a ‘quality of life’ campaign marketing the South East as a good place to live and work
- A 20% increase in jobs in exporting companies, in particular in manufacturing, agrifood, businesses services and biopharma/medtech:
- Manufacturing – a focus on this traditional strength of the region, develop a cluster of advanced manufacturing and 3D printing companies in the South East, and an industry-led forum in precision engineering
- Agrifood – achieve an 85% increase in exports over the next 10 years through a range of measures including a new Food Tech summit, an artisan food hub, and developing structures like an ICT in Agriculture centre of excellence, a National Precision Dairy research and innovation centre, and agricultural manufacturing cluster and a dedicated agri research centre
- Business Services – building on the success of companies like Eishtec, an industry-led forum for the business services/financial services sector in the region, developing a financial service hub, as well as a joint IDA/Enterprise Ireland strategy for Business Process Outsourcing
- Biopharma/medtech – an industry-led forum for this sector, a centre of excellence in the fields of IT and engineering support for the medical devices sector, proposals for a Pharmaceutical research and Incubation Centre for the region
- Tourism – measures to deliver 300,000 extra tourists and 5,000 associated jobs including developing Ireland’s Ancient East and focusing on cross-county initiatives
- Retail – a plan for each of the key town centres in the region, including proposals to enhance the consumer experience; support retailers in expanding into e-commerce by doubling the take-up of online vouchers in the region
- Drive for Talent – a Regional Skills Forum to promote closer cooperation between employers and training/education bodies, continue to progress the development of a Technological University for the South East, boost apprenticeships in the region
- Implementation – a comprehensive implementation structure is being established to ensure delivery of the plan
Employment in the South East declined by 37,900 (17%) during the crash; since the national Action Plan for Jobs was launched in Q1 2012 jobs in the region have grown by 25,300 (13.9%). The plan launched today targets employment growth of 10-15% over and above today’s employment levels,.
The levels of employment growth actually achieved within that range will depend on factors including the level of support and collaboration within the local community for the Plan, and the level of collaboration between organisations in the region and the main Government bodies involved in the plan. Minister Bruton believes that based on all the evidence and the strong buy-in for the process up to this point it is realistic to target 25,000 additional jobs in the region by 2020.
Launching the plan, Minister Bruton said: “Jobs are growing right across the country, but they are growing faster in some regions than in others. That is why we have put in place the €250million regional jobs strategy, to support regions to play to their strengths and accelerate jobs growth in every area.
“The South East is a region which has faced major historic unemployment problems, but which in the past three years has started to really bounce back and now has the fastest rate of jobs growth of all of the 8 regions in the country. In the past 3 years more than 25,000 jobs have been added in the region, meaning jobs have grown by almost 14%. This has been achieved mainly by the ingenuity, hard work and collaboration of workers and businesses in the region, and provides a model for many other areas in the country. However we can do more, and that hat is why we are putting in place this highly ambitious plan to dramatically accelerate job-creation in the region.
“I am convinced that with the right support from Government through the South East Plan, and by continuing the collaborative approach right across the region, we can deliver 25,000 extra jobs over the coming years. This would be 25,000 extra pay packets coming into communities and 25,000 lives back on track – a goal well worth fighting for”.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin TD said: “It is clear that Ireland is now emerging from recession. It is vital that every region benefits in full measure from our improving economy. The South East suffered in particular during the economic collapse and we recognised the need for a regional plan to ensure that this region gets back to full employment. I am very pleased to be part of today’s launch of a new South East Plan which will further build on the job creation that has taken place to date. The creation of new jobs has only been made possible through this Government’s ongoing prudent management of our finances as we recover from the past number of years and our ongoing commitment to getting people back to work in all regions. We will continue to ensure that the economic recovery reaches all parts of the country.”
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly TD said: “The South-East has a strong track record of producing world class products and selling them to global markets. We have Irelands largest inland town in Clonmel and plenty of available land, water resources, pharmaceutical skills as well as accessibility to European and other markets,”
“When that is combined with our strong entrepreneurial reputation and traditional agricultural base, Tipperary and the South East is well placed for economic growth and job creation”.