Saturday 18 January 2020

Warning lack of investment threatens economy in Border counties

Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Border counties such as Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo are at risk of economic decline, according to the latest Vacancy Index from recruitment website .

While job vacancies nationally grew 7pc year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, vacancies in the Border county of Cavan dropped by 27pc year-on-year, and in neighbouring Leitrim, vacancies dropped by 17pc year-on-year. "The Border region has always been economically peripheral relative to the rest of the country," said general manager Orla Moran.

"However, the Index has recorded a continued downward trend in many of the counties, particularly Cavan and Leitrim.

"This is a direct result of a continued lack of investment."

And while the Border region has by far the lowest unemployment rate in the State, at 4.4pc, Ms Moran told the Irish Independent that few new opportunities are being created in the Border area.

With Brexit coming quickly down the tracks, Ms Moran used the index to warn that as long as it remains an unknown quantity, there is the risk that job creation could stagnate in some parts of the economy.

"The same problems apparent in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 vote are still apparent in 2018," she said.

"We still do not know under what conditions businesses in the Republic of Ireland will be able to trade with or sell to businesses and consumers in Britain or even in Northern Ireland."

It is not all bad news in respect of Brexit, with the accountancy and finance industry, having seen a decline in vacancies last year, making up 6pc of all job vacancies in the latest index.

This recovery may suggest that UK-based companies, facing the increasing likelihood of a hard Brexit or a no-deal scenario, are advancing their contingency plans and establishing or bulking up a presence here.

Urban areas such as Dublin, Cork and Limerick are, unsurprisingly, continuing to experience a growth in job vacancies, however other counties have also reported notable gains in job vacancies including Meath, Kerry, and Monaghan.

The index also highlighted a contrast between Dublin and Limerick city.

While the two have among the highest job vacancy rates, they are characterised by different situations.

In Dublin, high vacancies may coincide with low unemployment rates, which could be suggestive of a tighter labour market in the capital.

Meanwhile, in contrast, the study found that the high and rising vacancy rate in Limerick has occurred in a context of a relatively high unemployment rate.

"This is suggestive of a mismatch between the education/skills profile of the labour force and employers' requirements in a region that is undergoing a process of industrial restructuring," the Index found.

Overall, hotel and catering jobs dominate job vacancies, representing 27pc of all vacancies in the three months to June 30.

This sector was followed by vacancies in sales, accounting and finance, construction, architecture and property.

However, construction, architecture and property, as well as engineering, utilities and sales vacancies have fallen in the second quarter of 2018, having posted a strong performance in the first three months of the year.

Irish Independent

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