Written answers

Tuesday, 23 November 2004

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Job Losses

10:00 pm

Photo of Brian O'SheaBrian O'Shea (Waterford, Labour)
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Question 280: To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in view of recent job losses in the manufacturing sector in the Waterford constituency, he will set up a task force for the Waterford constituency to assess the situation in manufacturing industry and to make recommendations for the creation of new jobs and the preservation of existing jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30172/04]

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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While job losses have occurred in County Waterford in the indigenous manufacturing sector over the past year, such as Nypro and Waterford Crystal, employment in the indigenous sector has remained strong overall. In 2003 there were 5,907 people employed in Enterprise Ireland client companies. Over 90% of this figure are engaged in manufacturing activities, showing an increase of 4.8% in employment over the previous five years. This represents a strong position compared to the national trend in manufacturing industry. In this regard, I refer the Deputy to the Forfás employment survey 2003.

In terms of job creation, Enterprise Ireland activity is focused on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs setting up new high potential start-up companies, the retention and creation of new jobs in existing companies and in enhancing the innovation capability of Ireland at a national and regional level through support of research in companies and third level institutions.

Since January 2003 Enterprise Ireland has approved over €7.5 million in direct support to companies in Waterford and paid over €6.5 million. These supports are designed to sustain existing businesses and support companies in developing their businesses. Enterprise Ireland also works with companies on competitiveness issues and under the Enterprise Ireland competitiveness fund 2003, which had a fund of €10 million, nine companies in Waterford were approved a total of approximately €1.3 million in support of projects.

As part of its regional development role, Enterprise Ireland works with other agencies in the county to develop the business infrastructure. Enterprise Ireland also works closely with the institutes of technology to encourage industry and third level partnerships in the regions in order to increase the level of technology used by Irish companies, helping them to add value to their products and services. Under this initiative Enterprise Ireland has approved over €1.4 million from the beginning of 2003 to date for such projects. Enterprise Ireland infrastructural projects include the community enterprise centres and incubation facilities in the colleges.

The development of community-based enterprise centres is a crucial part of the drive to create new regional enterprise through the provision of infrastructural facilities to support the establishment and expansion of microenterprises through local community participation. Enterprise Ireland provided over €1 million in funding in support of the development of community enterprise centres in County Waterford located in Waterford city, Dunhill, Cappoquin, Lismore and Portlaw. All the centres are now fully constructed, apart from the Portlaw centre, which is to be reviewed by a new local committee.

Enterprise Ireland has formed close links with Waterford Institute of Technology and other colleges in the region, such as the Institute of Technology Carlow and the Tipperary institute, in developing programmes that are likely to boost enterprise and business growth. Enterprise Ireland funds eligible participants to enable them to spend one year in developing their businesses with expertise from the colleges. Recruitment is now complete for the 2004-05 programme, for which 25 candidates have been selected, a number of whom are eligible for Enterprise Ireland support. Enterprise Ireland is a partner with Waterford Institute of Technology and the five rural county enterprise boards of the south east in the EnAct programme. EnAct is an innovative programme developed by the Waterford Institute of Technology through European funding provided under the innovative actions programme that aims to develop the management capabilities of microenterprises in the south east. Some 18 companies are participating on the programme and it will be completed by the end of December 2004.

There are no plans at present for the establishment of a task force for County Waterford. However, all of the key players, which might be involved in such a task force, meet on a regular basis as members of the city and county development boards and of the economic working groups of each board. Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland are available and willing to participate in any new initiative for the county. Net employment in IDA Ireland supported companies grew by 972 people in the period 2000 to 2003, which represented a 20.69% increase over that period. The main increase in employment came from companies such as AOL, IS, Sun Life, FS, Genzyme Pharmaceutical and Guhring Engineering and Construction. County Waterford is also increasing its proportion of employment in comparison to other counties in the south-east region and now accounts for 52% of all employment arising from overseas investment in the region.

As the gateway location for the south-east region, IDA Ireland is seeking to develop Waterford city as a first class location for overseas investment with the necessary infrastructure, skills availability and support services capable of attracting investment into County Waterford and the entire region. A key part of IDA Ireland strategy is to work with existing clients to continue to re-invest in their sites in the county. In addition, IDA Ireland is continuing to actively market its new business and technology park on 70 acres on the Cork Road through its network of overseas offices. Some 25,000 sq. ft. of high quality office space is available in the advance office building on the park. Private and IDA Ireland owned manufacturing space in the main industrial estate is also actively marketed as it becomes available. The State agencies are making every effort to bring new investment and employment opportunities to County Waterford.


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