Business Jobs

Sunday 16 December 2018

Dublin swallows up majority of new job opportunities

  • Regions losing out to capital and commuter belt as divide widens

  • Rural Minister admits 'Ireland is imbalanced' as Government launches €1bn fund for villages

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: Damien Eagers / INM
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: Damien Eagers / INM
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Dublin and the commuter belt are now swallowing up more than 60pc of new jobs.

While the country is continuing to edge towards full employment, a major urban-rural divide is developing. An analysis of the latest figures suggests the recovery is heavily weighed towards the capital, which also takes 61pc of new tech jobs.

And writing in today's Irish Independent, Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring admits: "Ireland is imbalanced."

Mr Ring accepts large numbers of people living in rural communities are being forced to travel long distances for work.

"This imbalance impacts on everyone's quality of life," he said.

The Government yesterday unveiled details of their 'Future Jobs' programme, which will replace the 'Action Plan for Jobs' set up during the recession. And it will today launch a €1bn fund for investment in rural towns and villages with a population under 10,000 over the next 10 years.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar opens the Future Jobs Summit at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Tony Gavin
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar opens the Future Jobs Summit at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Tony Gavin

But there is growing concern that international investors are focused primarily on the east coast, with limited interest in the regions.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys said three out of five jobs are now being created outside of Dublin.

According to CSO statistics, the numbers in employment actually fell in the Border region and remained unchanged in the mid-west over the past year.

Fianna Fáil has warned the new jobs plan is likely to be an "optical illusion" unless it urgently addresses the two-tier recovery.

Qualified: Anna-Maria Golm graduated with a BA Hons in Business Studies from Griffith College, Cork. Photo: Darragh Kane
Qualified: Anna-Maria Golm graduated with a BA Hons in Business Studies from Griffith College, Cork. Photo: Darragh Kane

The party's business spokesman Billy Kelleher said the 66,700 jobs created in the 12 months to the end of September was "good news".

But he warned that there was a "worrying trend emerging".

There was an annual increase in employment of 3pc, or 66,700, in the year to September, bringing total number in employment to a record 2,273,200.

However, a review of data supplied by the Central Statistics Office shows that, when the Mid-East region and Dublin are counted together, they absorbed more than 60pc of the new jobs. The Mid-East region, as defined by the CSO, consists of Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow.

Fianna Fáil's business spokesperson, Billy Kelleher warned: "Alarmingly, Dublin accounted for nearly half of total employment gains and the Greater Dublin Area accounting for over 60pc.

"This is clear, unambiguous evidence that the two-tier recovery is still being experienced by regional and rural Ireland," he said.

Of the positions created in the past 12 months, 59,100 jobs were in the services sector, including ICT, transport, hospitality, food and administration.

On a regional basis, Dublin accounted for 45pc of all these jobs and the 64pc when the Greater Dublin Area is counted.

Mr Kelleher noted that the European Commission has already warned about regional imbalances in terms of investment, economic growth and competitiveness. The Cork TD added that looking solely at the top-level figures is "short-sighted and harmful to thousands of communities up and down the country".

In an article for this newspaper today, Rural and Community Development Minister Michael Ring, accepts that large numbers of people living in rural communities are being forced to travel long distances for work.

"This imbalance impacts on everyone's quality of life," he said.

However, Mr Ring says the Government "has decided that it is time to redress the balance by strategically directing a greater proportion of growth and investment to our regions and our rural communities".

Along with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, he will today launch a €1bn fund for investment in rural towns and villages with a population under 10,000 over the next 10 years.

Mr Ring has said the money is "unprecedented and will be a game-changer for rural communities". More than 290 rural communities have applied for funding from the first tranche of money.

Mr Ring said the investment can be used by people to re-imagine how their towns and villages. He noted that one major threats facing rural Ireland is changing consumer habits.

The Minister also said "people increasingly choose to shop in out of town retail outlets and supermarkets, as opposed to in their local main street".

"The misleading and often politically motivated narrative which suggests a neglect of our rural communities fails to take into account the fundamental shifts in consumer behaviour which are changing the face of our main streets and town centres," he said.

Mr Ring adds that it is in everybody's interests to "re-balance growth away from our cities".

Speaking at the launch of the Future Jobs plan yesterday, Mr Varadkar said towns that would benefit from automation and big data were not necessarily those that are doing well today.

"In the same way that the invention of the spinning jenny and mechanised textile production changed the world of work forever - automation, the internet of things, advanced robotics, artificial intelligence and big data will transform our century," Mr Varadkar said.

"History is littered with examples of regions that thrived economically at one time or another, but were complacent, assumed their competitive advantage would last forever, and fell into decline."

Mr Varadkar acknowledged that economic improvements were putting pressure on certain parts of the economy, "notably on housing, on our transport infrastructure and there are recruitment challenges now across all sectors."

Where work was created

Overall, a total of 66,700 jobs were created nationally in the 12 months to the end of September this year.

The regional breakdown based on Central Statistics Office data shows:

  • Dublin: + 32,900 jobs
  • South-west: + 15,100
  • Midlands: +7,900
  • Mid-east: +7,300
  • West: +5,100
  • South-east: + 600
  • Mid-west: No change
  • Border: Minus 3,100

Other facts:

  • Some 59,100 of the jobs were created in the services sector;
  • And 61pc of the total new ICT jobs were created in Dublin.

Irish Independent

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