Thursday, 5 December 2019
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Since becoming Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I have made jobs and enterprise in the regions my top priority. I want to have a situation where all regions are enabled to realise their potential as contributors to economic recovery and growth.
Since Q1 2015, when the Regional Action Plans for Jobs (RAPJ) commenced there has been an increase of 312,500 people in employment across the State as at Q3 2019, with 195,600 people in the regions outside of Co. Dublin entering employment in that period. That is over 62% - or almost 3 out of every 5 jobs created.
I was pleased to note the latest Labour Force Survey results for Q3 2019 which show continued good progress on regional employment in the past 12 months. In the year to Q3 2019, employment has increased in six of the eight regions. The West and Mid-East have experienced strong growth, with employment growing by 5.3% and 5% respectively. This exceeds employment growth in the State overall of 2.4%. Moreover, the unemployment rate fell in five of the eight regions in the year to Q3 2019. The South-East with an unemployment rate of 7.3% is currently the only region with an unemployment rate in excess of the national average by one percentage point.
To continue to build on the progress on employment growth throughout the country, and to ensure that the jobs created are sustainable and of high quality, I launched nine new Regional Enterprise Plans to 2020 earlier this year. The principle behind the Regional Enterprise Plans is collaboration between regional stakeholders on initiatives that can help to realise the region’s enterprise development potential. These stakeholders include: Local Authorities, the LEOs, the enterprise agencies, the Regional Skills Forum, tourism bodies, private sector ‘enterprise champions’, the Higher Education Institutes and others.
The Regional Enterprise Plans continue to deliver to the Government's RAPJ target to generate an uplift of 10 to 15 per cent at work in each region by 2020 (from a Q1 2015 baseline), with the unemployment rate of each region reduced to not more than one percentage point above the national average.
This Government introduced the Regional Enterprise Development Fund in 2017 to support the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects to sustain and add to employment at county, regional and national level in line with the overall ambition of the RAPJs and the current Regional Enterprise Plans initiative. To date, the REDF has been delivered through two competitive calls with 42 projects across all regions securing a total of just under €60 million.
On the 24 June 2019, I announced a further €45 million Call 3 of the Fund. Eligible projects under this Call are currently being evaluated and I expect to be able to announce the successful projects following the completion of the evaluation process.