58. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the latest unemployment data in the CSO’s Census 2016 Summary Results - Part 2 and the fact that there are 79 unemployment blackspots nationwide with Limerick city and county with 18 such blackspots; and if the action plan for jobs will be reviewed to take these findings into account. (Question 29399/17 asked on 22 Jun 2017)

Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Government’s goal is to create 200,000 jobs by 2020 – including 135,000 jobs outside Dublin. This is an ongoing process, and employment continues to grow strongly. In the year since Census 2016 was completed, almost 70,000 more people are at work. More than three out of every four new jobs created in this period were outside Dublin.  

According to the CSO’ Quarterly National Household Survey, in Q2 2016 when the Census was undertaken, there were 14,600 people unemployed in the Mid-West region. The unemployment rate was 8.5%. At Q1 2017, the most recent data available shows the unemployment rate in the Mid-West has dropped by 1.7 percentage points to 6.8%. The number of unemployed persons has fallen by 3,100 in the same period, while the number of people on the Live Register in County Limerick has fallen by almost 2,000 – a drop of 16%. 

The Action Plan for Jobs is one of the Government’s key instruments to support this target. My priority is to ensure that the actions committed to in the 2017 Plan to secure employment and retain jobs in the face of global uncertainty are delivered. I will shortly be commencing the process to develop the 2018 Plan. I want to use our collective resources across Government to support enterprise and sustainable employment growth in all regions and ensure all of our people have the opportunity to enjoy rewarding work.  

Action Plan for Jobs 2017 includes actions aimed at stimulating regional growth, including the progression, monitoring and support of the eight Regional Action Plans for Jobs, which through public and private sector collaboration seek to build on existing strengths and assets and identify opportunities within each region, and realise the national Action Plan’s regional employment targets. 

To support the regional jobs agenda, additional funds will be made available through the enterprise development agencies out to 2020. In this context, a competitive Regional Enterprise Development Fund 2017-2020 was launched in May 2017, providing funding of up to €60 million to co-finance the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that can sustain and add to employment at a national, regional and county level.  This regional competitive fund will support the ambition, goals and implementation of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs.  In addition, additional funding of €150m is being made available to the IDA to support its Regional Property Programme and drive job creation in the multi-national sector.