Broad welcome for ambitious South East jobs plan

By David Tucker

Published 15/09/2015 | 00:00

Wexford County Council says the newly-announced South East Action Plan to create 25,000 jobs will further build on the the record of job creation that has been achieved in the county.

'Wexford County Council will continue to play it's part in supporting that track record of success by ensuring that the necessary land, infrastructure and enterprise supports are in place to further generate economic growth, boost investor confidence and create jobs,' said Tony Larkin, Director of Economic Development and Planning Services at Wexford County Council.

Weloming the action plan, Council Chairman Tony Dempsey said actions and supports must be put in place within each region that are specifically tailored to meet those challenges and exploit those opportunities.

Meanwhile, Waterford Institute of Technology says it has a pivotal role as a catalyst for regional cultural and economic development through innovation of research and a knowledge transfer framework as part of the jobs plan.

Dr Peter McLoughlin, Head of Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies at WIT reaffirmed the Institute's commitment to working with regional stakeholders in order to deliver on the Action Plan's regional priorities and ambitious targets in the coming years.

'WIT's role in developing the region's research capabilities and infrastructure, entrepreneurship and innovation support programmes and talent pool is fundamental to ensuring the South East's economic and competitive position into the future,' he said.

Speaking at the launch Minister Richard Bruton said that 25,000 jobs are ambitious but that the region has a track record of delivering change. Close to 38,000 jobs were lost in the region during the crash, and there have been an increase of around 25,000 in the past three years.

The €250 million regional jobs strategy covers the counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford is the third of eight regional jobs plans for the regions.

While tourism is expected to be a key driver of employment, with some 5,000 jobs in prospect under the Ancient East unbrella, the largest project announced during the plan launch was the creation of 200 new jobs over the next six months in Clonmel by Eishtec, which has one its main centres in Wexford.

Commenting on the plan, Madeleine Quirke, CEO Wexford Chamber said: 'The creation of unique regional growth strategies is fundamental to supporting regional development and today's publication is therefore very welcome.'

'The South East has been particularly badly hit by the recession, but the latest employment figures from the CSO show that the recovery has now also spread to this region,' she said, adding that the launch of a targeted job creation strategy for the South East will act to further accelerate job recovery and economic growth.'

Supports aimed at growing jobs in the Manufacturing, Engineering, Agrifood, Business Services, Pharma / Medtech, Tourism and Retail sectors are included, while a Regional Skills Forum is planned to promote closer cooperation between employers and training/education bodies. The Plan also emphasises the need to progress the development of a Technological University for the South East and also seeks to boost the number of apprenticeships in the region.

Among the 194 actions in the plan to be delivered between 2015-2017 are:

* 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. In fact, the day after the development announcement, government gave details of funding for 12 sites in the county under the Ancient East umbrella.

* 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 per cent 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 per cent 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

* Retail - a plan for each of the key town centres 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, and boost apprenticeships in the region.

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