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Playing to our strengths

Publish Date: Wednesday, 15th March 2017

An analysis is underway of the business sectors identified as having the potential to significantly increase employment across Limerick and the mid west region over the short to medium term.

As part of the Mid West Action Plan for Jobs, which aims to create an additional 23,000 jobs in the region by 2020, a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis of a number of sectors is in the process of being carried out.

Dr Orlaith Borthwick, programme manager for the Mid West Action Plan for Jobs said: “We are in the middle of doing a SWOT analysis on a number of sectors and identifying what the future opportunities are specifically for the region.”

Dr. Orlaith Borthwick

The plan for Limerick, Clare and Tipperary aims to deliver 10-15% employment growth in the region and will target growth in key sectors of potential such as Aviation, Life Sciences, Engineering, Internationally Traded Services and Tourism.

The mid west region is faring very well as the economy begins to gather momentum. In 2016, FDI companies located in the region recorded 1,516 net new jobs, a 10% jump, while, Enterprise Ireland backed jobs saw a six percent increase. Both of these rate increases were the highest in the country.

Meanwhile the latest comparable figures from the Local Enterprise Offices in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary show that 443 net new jobs were created in 2015.

One of the main reasons the region is performing well is that there is a realisation that everyone needs to work together to attract investment, both foreign and domestic, as Dr Borthwick explains:

“The region is doing very well as it is at the moment. I think the strength of it has been the collaboration that we have ongoing at the moment. We have a focus on the opportunities that exist, we believe in aviation and aerospace. At the moment in the region we have a very strong offering in terms of aviation finance, we have a very strong offering in terms of MRO activities but we’re really focusing on how we can build out the sub-supply chain that would feed in to aerospace OEMs.

“We’re looking at opportunities in agriculture tech and how can we make sure that again we are positioned to maximise on the new jobs because there is a lot of new sectors out there and there are a lot of changes in how business is done and how can we make sure that this region is at the forefront of that”.

Another sector being highlighted is next generation manufacturing.

“We are focusing on advanced manufacturing, as a region we are more reliant on manufacturing as an employer than the national averages, we’ve a strength in it for many years but it is a sector that is transforming at a high speed at the moment, technological advances, robotics and how can we as a region make sure that we are at the forefront of those innovations or deliver for those,” Dr Borthwick added.

Orlaith Borthwick has just recently been appointed to the role of Programme Manager for the Mid West Action Plan for Jobs, having previously worked in Limerick Chamber, first as Director of Policy and later as interim CEO, before moving to the Third Level sector as Mid West Regional Skills Manager.

She says her previous employment has given her an ideal insight into the needs of the region: “I’ve worked in regional economic development for a while and I’m quite passionate about the opportunities for Tier2 city regions and I believe this region is in prime position to maximise the opportunities that exist.”

“I have an Implementation Committee and a chairman, Barry O’Sullivan the head of Johnson and Johnson Vision Care in the region and surrounding him are a number of sub groups and committees and industry chairpersons. We have a huge amount of voluntary time and contribution from the private sector to work to enhance the opportunities for the region.”

Dr Orlaith Borthwick and Barry O’Sullivan

“What our action for jobs is about is partnerships and collaboration and what we have in this region is three local authorities who appreciate the impact that collaboration can have and can see the benefits of working together rather than in competition.  I think what we have at the moment in the Action Plan for Jobs is industry being supported by our local authorities, by our third level institutions and by our state agencies and that collective collaborative is really having a huge impact and the Action Plan for Jobs is really benefitting from that,” she added.

The development is being facilitated by the collaborative work through Limerick, Clare and Tipperary, with the Limerick city region at its core, driving the investment opportunities but with job creation potential through the entire region.

“The Limerick city region is doing phenomenally well in terms of our growth, but growth can only occur where you have the capacity in place and the infrastructure to facilitate that. The capacity needs to have the infrastructure in place.”

“For example we need broadband connectivity, we need higher latency, higher speeds to ensure we can get to the forefront of things. We need the infrastructure for people to get from A to B, so we are very lucky in the Limerick city region to have an international airport on our doorstep, but we need to make sure the connectivity from that airport services business needs. We also need the road infrastructure in place for people to get to and from where they need to go so, if that is the M20 in terms of connectivity to Cork within the region but more locally the Limerick Northern Distributor Road is essential if we are trying to get more growth and facilitate the opportunities that do exist in the region,” Dr Borthwick said.

“Our ambition is to increase employment in the region by 23,000 by 2020 and we are very much in line to achieve that, I would think before 2020 with the growth that we are currently experiencing.”

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Format: 2017-03-27
Format: 2017-03-27