Wednesday 17 January 2018

South East playing catch-up says Rosslare port chief

David Tucker

John Lynch, Regional President, Rosslare Europort, and Claire McInerney, Sox Ventures, at the Ibec Regional Seminar.
John Lynch, Regional President, Rosslare Europort, and Claire McInerney, Sox Ventures, at the Ibec Regional Seminar.

the South East is still playing catch-up in terms of an economic recovery, the general manager of Rosslare Europort told a meeting of business leaders.

'Ireland is on the way back, but not all parts of the country are feeling the benefits,' John Lynch, who is also Ibec South East Regional President, told the meeting at the Lyrath Estate Hotel, in Kilkenny, 'the South East is still playing catch-up.

'Unemployment remains far too high and those out of work are not always getting the right training to help them back to work. Employment is up 23,000 (12.5 per cent) since 2012, but the unemployment rate remains two per cent above the national average, and 3.3 per cent higher than Dublin,' said Mr. Lynch.

Ibec South East called for urgent action to ensure the region reaped the full rewards of the national economic recovery. The event, addressed by Minister for Education and Skills Jan O'Sullivan and entitled 'The skills gap: Making the right connections', was supported by primary sponsor Electric Ireland and communications partner Vodafone Ireland.

Ibec set out the key priorities to drive growth and job creation in the region, including the need for greater infrastructure investment and new structures to ensure that the education and training system is closely aligned with the skills needs of employers in the region. Mr. Lynch said addressing this will take time, but it must be a priority and requires closer engagement between employers and education providers.

'We need a regional forum for local stakeholders to work together in building the skills of the South East.

'We have some high quality colleges and institutes of technology, getting them cooperating and collaborating better with businesses is crucial. The proposed technological university also offers considerable scope to improve how business and higher education institutions work together. Its establishment should be a priority,' he said.

Minister O'Sullivan said we have a wealth of labour market information and research on emerging skills needs which can help inform the planning of education and training programmes.

'However, to be really effective in ensuring that programmes are aligned with changing needs we need the direct involvement of employers in interpreting this research and in helping to design and deliver programmes through, for example, work placement opportunities.

'..this type of interaction requires a significant investment in time and I know this can pose challenges for both employers and education providers.

'We are hoping that new structures will help support this interaction,' he said.

Vodafone marketing chief Barry Tierney said his company is very supportive of measures designed to reduce unemployment, improve competitiveness and foster inclusive growth in the region.

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