Bruton launches Mid East Action Plan for Jobs Strategy

Successful implementation of Plan for Meath, Kildare and Wicklow would see creation of 25,000 extra jobs in the region.

The Government will today (Monday) launch the Mid East Action Plan for Jobs, aimed at delivering 10-15% employment growth in the region over the coming years.

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

Following several difficult years since the crash, employment in the Mid East has returned to growth, with 14,500 extra people at work in the region in the past two years (6.7%). During the years 2008-2011, 31,900 jobs were lost in the region (13%). The plan launched today targets employment growth of 10-15%.

The Mid East Plan covers counties Meath, Kildare and Wicklow. Key sectors targeted as part of the plan include high tech-manufacturing, agri-food, tourism, renewable energy, the equine industry and the film/creative content industry. Among the 163 actions in the plan to be delivered over the period 2016-2017 include:

  • Start-ups – achieve an increase of at least 25% in the number of start-ups in the region, and a 25% improvement in the survival rate of new businesses – measures to include a series of audits to provide more incubation and shared space for start-up businesses in the region as well as training and mentoring support to over 2000 business-people per year by the LEOs
  • Foreign investment – increase the number of IDA investments in the region by 30-40% up to 2019, through actions including appointing a dedicated Regional Manager for the Mid East, marketing the region as a location for second sites for multinationals in the Dublin region, and building clusters in existing sectors like high-value manufacturing and international services
  • Skills – establish a Regional Skills Forums to ensure the flow of critical skills to enterprises in the region
  • Innovation – measures to increase the number of businesses using R&D in the region; explore/develop the potential for a series of projects including a climate change research and innovation centre, a pharmaceutical research and innovation centre
  • Tourism – including new initiatives to improve collaboration between different bodies in the region on tourism initiatives, in particular Ireland’s Ancient East, Blueways and Greenways and other recreational tourism facilities serving the greater Dublin area
  • Equine industry – initiatives to include developing a joint marketing strategy to brand the region as the Equine Capital of the world
  • Film/creative industries – develop a feasibility study and business plan for the development of an internationally recognised audio-visual industry Cluster in Wicklow, and separately explore the development of a regional Arts Hub at Maynooth University
  • Agri-food – including exploring/developing the Boyne Valley Food Hub and food tourism measures, Food Works clinic in the Mid East in 2016 and targeting food companies in the Mid East to scale and innovate
  • Implementation – a comprehensive implementation structure is being established to ensure delivery of the plan

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 25,000 additional jobs in the region by 2020.

Minister Bruton 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.

“Proximity to Dublin is both a strength and a potential weakness in a unique way for the Mid East region. The region suffered badly during the crash, with 31,000 jobs lost and the construction sector particularly impacted. Over recent years thanks to the ingenuity of its workers and businesses it has begun to recover strongly, but we must do more. Through this plan we are aiming to build on the specific strengths in the region like the equine industry, the film industry, and high-value manufacturing as well as more traditional sectors like agri-food and tourism.

“I am convinced that with the right support from Government through the Mid East Plan, we can keep the recovery going and create jobs in towns and villages right across Meath, Kildare and Wicklow. In this way we can deliver 25,000 extra jobs over the coming years. This would be 25,000 extra pay packets coming into communities and 25,000 lives back on track – a goal well worth fighting for”.

Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation and Meath West TD Damien English said: “The Mid East Region, with its young and growing population, highly educated and professionally experienced workforce has the potential to be one of the fastest growing economic regions in the country.  Its people and its proximity to Dublin gives the region an opportunity to offer a world class location which has all of the advantages of a capital city but with the added advantage of a significantly lower cost base.

“The key challenge for the mid east region is to create additional jobs within the region so that more people who live in the region can work here.

“All of the actions in this plan are the result of collaboration and joint effort between public bodies, agencies, enterprises, and the government. Continuing this collaboration will also be the key element in ensuring their delivery and success. I am confident that the Mid East region has the capability to maintain this joint effort, to deliver, and to exceed expectations for jobs and enterprise growth over the lifetime of this plan.”