Dáil Éireann - Volume 633 - 06 March, 2007
Written Answers. - Economic Performance.
Mr. Kehoe Mr. Kehoe
Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the concerns of local community groups in respect of the factors that have led to the south east region falling behind in terms of its economic performance relative to the national trends. [8584/07]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin: The latest Quarterly National Household Survey figures published by the Central Statistics Office which are for the fourth quarter of 2006 show that the number of people in employment in the south east region increased by 12% to 219,100 over the two-year period since the fourth quarter of 2004. Furthermore, the number of unemployed people in the region has fallen over the same period but, while the rate of unemployment is down from 5.6% to 4.8%, it is still above the national average.
While there have been job losses in the traditional sectors, there has been significant growth in other areas such as pharmaceuticals, medical technologies, financial services and software. The State Training agency FÁS is committed to the development of the labour force skills in the region. In 2006, the agency invested almost €100 million in the region.
The economic development of the region is being advanced by IDA Ireland primarily through the gateway of Waterford City. The agency’s strategy is to progress the development of a knowledge-based economy so that the region can compete for foreign direct investment. The agency continues to work with existing clients to broaden their mandate in Ireland. The success of this overall strategy is reflected in projects by Genzyme, Abbott Vascular, Cordis Corporation, Bisys Hedge Funds Services, Servier and Merck  Sharp & Dohme which have located in the region.
Enterprise Ireland has forged strong links with the Waterford Institute of Technology and Carlow Institute of Technology, and has funded business incubation centres at the Institutes. The agency has also funded the establishment of 17 Community Enterprise Centres in the region since the first CEC Scheme in 1989, and since 2002, the agency has supported 24 new high potential start-up companies. A number of indigenous companies have embarked on significant research and development activities demonstrating a move toward higher-value activities. In addition, the Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecoms Software and Systems Group has recently received research and development support through Science Foundation Ireland.
In the context of balanced regional development, the State Development agencies will continue to pursue innovative initiatives, in cooperation with other local bodies, to further develop the region for industrial development and job creation.
Dáil Éireann 633 Written Answers. Economic Performance.