'The demand is not there for factory workers'
TALK Talk, Waterford Crystal, Kromberg and Schubert, and Ray Ban sunglasses are the names of just some of the better-known employers that have closed their doors in Waterford.
Yet recruitment specialist Fergal Hartley says there are many more big employers – such as G-Elit, the Waterford brewery of Diageo, the Kilmeaden Cheese factory and Snowcream milk plant – that have shut or downsized in the city and its hinterland.
"There are loads of others over the years," said the former Waterford hurling captain and director of Hartley Recruitment.
"There has been very little to replace those."
Now, after dealing with people seeking jobs for more than a decade, he feels the region must be prioritised.
"In fairness I think the number of IDA visits to Waterford has increased but unfortunately we haven't seen a lot in terms of job creation."
He said the area had lost far more jobs than had been gained.
"Waterford city has an unemployment rate of just under 19pc and it has been consistently kind of 5pc-6pc above the national average for the last number of years.
"The border, midlands and western region were probably traditionally always the region where unemployment rates were highest – the south-east region has surpassed that now."
He said there is demand for skilled professions, such as manufacturing engineers, accounting professionals and project management, as well as for sales people and IT.
"Where there is not a demand unfortunately is for factory workers losing their jobs," he said.
Mr Hartley wants to see job creation from IDA and Enterprise-Ireland backed ventures and university status for Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).
"That would increase chances of foreign direct investment and research."