AT long last, the regions are about to get some badly-needed government help in the area of job creation with the launch of a Regional Action Plan for Jobs.
This includes €150m for the IDA to invest in property in economically-depressed areas with a view towards attracting foreign direct investment, however this is spread over five years and across eight regions, including the south west, comprising Cork and Kerry. There is also an Enterprise Ireland investment fund of €100m over five years available, with €50m of it being released this year on a competitive basis.
With only 37% of new jobs supported by the IDA having been created outside of Dublin and Cork, there is a need to improve infrastructure in peripheral areas such as West Cork to help them compete for job creation opportunities and two very basic areas where we are behind the curve are roads and high-speed broadband connectivity.
Local authorities are to develop local economic and community plans, identifying their areas’ strengths for relevant types of job creation and, hopefully, these will involve widespread community consultations to ensure that the right skill sets are available. It is also vital to involve Chambers of Commerce who are familiar with the needs of their respective towns – most of which suffered badly during the recession.