The south east has suffered a great deal of job losses over the past decade, losing major industries and having above average unemployment when compared to the rest of the State.
However, the IDA seems to have finally established some inter county co-operation, thus raising the overall potential of the south east region on the jobs front.
On Monday week last, flanked by all the region’s senior and junior cabinet members (with one exception – Wexford’s Paul Kehoe), Jobs Minister Richard Bruton announced the Bluefin/Eishtec jobs boost, along with the South East Action Plan for Jobs.
This major document has been identified by the Government as launching the next phase of action when it comes to turning our region’s jobs crisis on its head. And while progress has been made, there much that yet needs doing.
This follows Minister Bruton’s major intervention when in came to Waterford in the fall-out of the 2011 closure of Talk Talk, which saw 575 staff losing their jobs.
Since then, many of those who lost their Talk Talk jobs have found work with Eishtec and Rigney Dolphin and it’s clear that a greater concentration on the region on the Government’s behalf is having a positive effect.
But various actions are still needed and these were referred to at a seminar attended by the Minister in Waterford several months ago.
Co-operation on tourism was seen as an ideal avenue where all the counties, working together could benefit and perhaps the development of the Ancient East initiative can further that particular goal.
Getting the region’s Technological University bid over the line is another one but it is critical that such a development sees courses provided at the TU which are related to industry need, meet the highest standards and deliver sustainable, well-paid jobs.
One of the best ideas floated at the aforementioned seminar was a discussion on how the boom in Dublin could be harnessed in Waterford.
Waterford can make a pitch for expanding Dublin firms and, in response, Minister Bruton gave the go-ahead for local stakeholders to contact the IDA to progress such a discussion with appropriately expanding firms.
And this is where the M9 motorway and the ease of access that now exists between both cities ought to be championed. Our lower property prices and proximity to Dublin and Cork must be positives when it comes to attracting new industries and businesses.
We recently met some Eastern Europeans recently who stated they would rather live in County Waterford than Dublin as it is easier and cheaper to raise a family here than in Dublin and offers a better lifestyle – this, despite the higher salaries that Dublin-based jobs command.
So to win such business would clearly be a ‘win-win’ for Ireland and the south east to win more business from the capital while also helping to reduce congestion in the capital.
The dynamic of the submission for the European City of Culture where the local authorities of Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny are co-operating seem to be bearing fruit, added Cllr Eddie Mulligan. And, as we discuss on News 8, winning the Capital of Culture bid could reap a rich divided for the region.
Manufacturing should not be considered a forgotten entity either given the skills that we still possess in the city and county. It too can play a part in boosting our region’s recovery.