Government launches Midlands Action Plan for Jobs as part of €250million regional jobs strategy

The Government today launched the Midlands Action Plan for Jobs, aimed at delivering 10-15% employment growth in the region over the coming years.

The Plan is the first of 8 regional jobs plans to be published over the coming months as part of a new €250million regional jobs strategy led by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD.

The Midlands region covers counties Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath, and the key sectors targeted in the plan include manufacturing, tourism, food and energy. Actions in the plan to be delivered over the period 2015-2017 include:

  • Establish a Midlands Manufacturing Technologies Campus
  • New cycling, walking and other recreational trails along the waterways of the region
  • Establish a Skills Forum to connect education providers in the region with the employers/industry in need of skilled workers
  • Develop a Regional Energy Hub for the Midlands
  • A series of actions to promote 25% more start-ups in the midlands, including extra funding, mentoring programmes and establishing new incubator spaces for entrepreneurs like The Junction in Tullamore
  • A series of actions aimed at attracting at least 25 additional multinational investment projects to the region by 2019, including building two advance facilities for Athlone, appointing an IDA Regional Manager for the midlands and actions to ensure that key IDA personnel overseas have enhanced knowledge and marketing plans for the region
  • A series of actions to support extra employment growth in the 1052 existing exporting companies within the midlands region, most of which are SMEs

Employment in the Midlands declined by 20,800 (16%) during the crash; since the Action Plan for Jobs was launched in early 2012 jobs have grown in the region by 9,200 (9%). The plan launched today targets employment growth of 10-15% over and above today’s employment levels, which would represent between 11,400 and 17,100 additional jobs in the region by 2020.

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 14,000 additional jobs in the region by 2020.

Following the successful national Action Plan for Jobs model which has supported the creation of 100,000 additional jobs 21 months ahead of deadline, and in order to ensure that the Plan is delivered, a comprehensive implementation structure is being put in place. Deadlines and lead organisations are assigned in the case of each action, an Implementation Committee is being put in place, and Progress Reports implementation levels will be published every six months.

Speaking today at the plan launch, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said: “This Action Plan is the first in a series of eight Regional Plans, all of which will help us to deliver a key priority for this Government – to create local jobs and secure local recovery.  This Government is intent that every region will achieve its economic potential and that we maximise  job creation in each region.  The Midlands Action Plan coordinates efforts from all local stakeholders to create local jobs in the different sectors and to maximise local strengths.  The Plan contains over 100 very tangible and time-bound actions which aim to create an additional 14,000 jobs in the region in the coming years.”

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD 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 midlands has performed well in recent years, with over 9,000 extra jobs created, but it has had historic challenges, and that is why we decided that the Midlands Plan would be the first regional jobs plan published. The new collaborative approach we have built, involving stakeholders in the regions working together and cooperating closely with Government to support jobs growth, is working really well. I am convinced that with the right support from Government through the midlands plan, and by continuing the collaborative approach right across the midlands, we can deliver 14,000 extra jobs over the coming years. This would be 14,000 extra pay packets coming into communities and 14,000 lives back on track – a goal well worth fighting for”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan TD said: “Now that the recovery is firmly taking root we need to ensure that the regions benefit from the economic turnaround.”

“The Midland Region experienced an acute rise in unemployment and there is a particular need for a programme of up-skilling and retraining to provide opportunities for jobseekers to work locally. Action Plan for Jobs Midlands Region targets an increase in employment by 10-15% by 2020 is an important step towards full employment.”

The Minister of State for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD said: “Entrepreneurship is the essential ingredient in realising the ambition of Ireland becoming the best country in Europe in which to start a new business. This is reflected in this Action Plan with concrete targets to increase the number of entrepreneurs/start-ups by 25%, to improve their 5-year survival rate by 25% and improve scaling performance of companies by 25%. I believe the Midlands region, the heart of Ireland, is well placed to meet these ambitious targets.”