'Collaborations are delivering economic growth across the Mid-West'. This was the message delivered to Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys at a Refresh and Refocus session for the Regional Action Plan for Jobs.
Speaking at the session, the Minister re-affirmed her commitment to the Regional Action Plan for Jobs initiative, noting the significant impact they have had to date on regional economic prosperity.
“The Regional Action Plans for Jobs have made real progress and there has been significant improvement in regional employment levels since 2015. Collaboration between the private and the public sector has been key,” she said.
“We have done a lot but working together we can achieve more. Today marks the start of our ‘refresh and refocus’ of the Regional Action Plans, as we bring together key figures from industry and the public sector to share their ideas on the strategic regional priorities we should now focus on to 2020.”
To deliver on the plans and support regional ambitions, the Minister announced the opening of the Second Call under the €60 million Regional Enterprise Development Fund, noting: “There is an opportunity here for regional stakeholders, both public and private sector, to work together and bring forward initiatives that build on each region’s unique strengths. This is all with a view to enhancing the enterprise and job creation potential in their region.”
Also addressing the event, the Minister State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen said: “The Regional Action Plans for Jobs have provided a structure for collaboration so that individual Counties can work together, harness collective abilities to support enterprise growth, and respond to economic challenges. The €60 million Regional Enterprise Development Fund builds on and supports this structure. It puts regional investment into the hands of local stakeholders, and encourages local groups to develop and drive enterprise growth and employment opportunities in their own communities.”
The Mid-West Action Plan for Jobs Programme Manager Dr. Órlaith Borthwick presented to the Ministers on the day, highlighting the region’s recent successes: “The Mid-West region continues to go from to strength and out-perform other regions across the country. Employment in Limerick, Clare and and Tipperary has increased by 14% over the past three years, with an additional 22,000 people now in work.”
“The unemployment rate in the Mid-West is now almost 40% less than peak levels while numbers on the live register continue to decline”.
Highlighting the integral role cross-agency and county collaborations have played in delivering this growth, Dr. Borthwick added: “The levels of growth in the Mid-West continue to out-perform national averages; this level of success does not just happen. It is a culmination of clear visions, policies and plans; devised and delivered across a plethora of public and private agencies. In particular in the Mid-West our local authorities were praised by the Minister for the leadership they show, as well as the collective industry partnerships which are delivering real impact”.
In addition to the impressive employment growth and falls in unemployment levels, the Mid-West region also recorded the highest levels of investment growth in 2017, while irishjobs.ie reports that the Mid-West has had the highest growth in new job vacancies.