The publication of the annual Action Plan for Jobs signals the Government's strategic ambitions to stimulate job creation across the country.
This document presents actionable and measurable initiatives to generate new jobs, but despite its success, one of the criticisms which has been levelled at the Action Plan for Jobs, is that it fails to recognise the unique strengths and potential of individual locations in the country, instead favouring a 'one size fits all' approach to job creation policy.
The Government responded to this criticism in February with the announcement of their intention to regionalise the Action Plan for Jobs. The Regional Action Plans will replicate the National strategy, insofar as the individual reports will outline a list of actions and defined timelines and responsibilities for the implementation of said actions.
Central to the development of each of the regional job strategies is a consultation phase, whereby relevant stakeholders are invited to attend a forum, with a view to identifying the strengths of a particular region and opportunities to create new jobs within that region.
Having attended the South East stakeholder forum in Waterford two weeks ago, I was impressed by both the format of the event and the commitment displayed by the attendees to contribute to sustainable job creation in Wexford, Waterford, Carlow and Kilkenny.
Noticeably, the attendees at the forum represented the interests from a cross-section of industries, sectors and locations. From business owners to the heads of Third Level institutes, an eclectic mix of experience and perspectives combined to generate a myriad of ideas that could potentially, create jobs in our county.
This collaborative work resulted in suggestions such as; progressing the region's renewable energy and water sports industries, extending the remit of the Enterprise Centres to include a TechShop for the production of prototypes, developing the sugar beet industry and maximising the economic opportunities that could be derived from our regions ports. Other ideas put forward included the need for our food companies and institutes of technology to work in tandem to stimulate more innovation within the growing food sector, creating a more unified tourism strategy for the South East and unlocking some of our region's hidden gems.
Each of the ideas put forward on the day were recorded by the Department of Jobs and this information will now form the foundation for the Regional Action Plan for Jobs: South East. It remains to be seen which suggestions will be deemed appropriate for the plan and ultimately its success will be determined by its subsequent implementation, however, I feel that this collaborative approach enables people to invest in the initiative at an early stage, which should maximise support for the proposed policies as they are implemented.