How to create jobs where none exist is a significant problem for the government.  There are many avenues that could be tapped into but I stress that its not the usual suspects that will turn Ireland around.

Recently over the past ten or so years the obvious housing boom is viewed as the main culprit in dragging Ireland into the bust scenario.  The amounts spent in research and development have proved little by way of increasing the job intake within the state. Now this generalises comment is against the backdrop of overall “actual” jobs created as a consequence of he r&d projects.  IDA have for nearly too long decided to seek investment within the r&d field for existing operations in Ireland.  To this end the benefit to the state in terms of revenue generation is paltry given the investment inclusive of EU funds.

So where should we look.  In Donegal we were renowned for textile and other manufacturing industries.  In the mid 90’s and 00’s we seen this sector decimated with the likes of International firms Fruit of the Loom, Herdmans, Gaeltex all close. Approximately 3,500 – 4,000 direct and 500 – 1,000 indirect jobs were lost to the local and regional economy.  The then minister responsible for enterprise Mary Harney decided to evoke a Task Force method to see what local actions and IDA could bring to the employment table.  The actual spin off was a mere increased usage of FAS service to, yes you guessed it, roll out more computer courses of a very basic nature.  This was the answer to all our job losses, in their words.

 

Various strategies were documented and many had some excellent ideas of how best to tackle the issues.  Many were funding dependent, some were given to organisations to advance i.e. Donegal County Council.  The idea was good, but the delivery of this was always aspiration and ultimately what it did create was the north-west notion of being on the periphery of the country and compounded by the “up here it’s different”.  Different in it is more difficult to get the IDA to positively discriminate for the north west or any other state / semi sate organisation to proactively push the region.

Getting back to creating jobs.  We lost these jobs, but never sought investment from the government to replace the funding and re-brand what we had, i.e. one of the best textile producers in the World.  It wasn’t about replacing these jobs, merely refunding them that could have answered quite a bit of our unemployment figures.  From then and since the IDA has had a net LOSS in job creation in the North West, often defended by thee IDA and now more so than ever with the downturn.  We call all list the problems, but few are putting forward ideas, plans or even exposing possible opportunities.

The North West MUST start looking at manufacturing again, some product development, some initiatives that gets into local areas and affords people the chance of gaining employment.  Investment, the good old problem, needs to be addressed now in order to provide effective plans.  Yes I have concentrated on textile without mentioning the fishing industry – farming – natural resources – r&d  and the myriad of sectors we are good at.

 

Private service sector and public sector jobs are the only ones keeping Donegal & the North West afloat. Not to suggest that there isn’t any other sector doing well, but the primary ones are as above.  If these decline, what we now view as a serious problem? will become unimaginable.  Our response will be even tougher on all fronts. Our capacity to tackle this would be hindered, possibly beyond repair.  I don’t want to imagine a time when we are reduced to giving butter and meal vouchers to people as we once did in the 80’s.  We in the north west have traditionally had the highest unemployment figures in Ireland and the lowest disposable income per person & household, followed closely by Kerry.  This continuum has not been broken before or during the boom and now we are in bust situation the trend continues to expand. Politically we haven’t been served as well as we could have been.  Can we be served any better by the current political parties remains very much in the Imbalance that exists.

Focus of current policy is on exporting.  This has short term gain as when the global economy gets going the world markets will re-develop their own capacity to produce and become less reliant on imports.  Unlike us, we are hell bent on exporting with our imports still increasing.  We need more self sufficiency, produce for ourselves to decrease our reliance on imports.  When the export market stabilises, we need to then look even more closely at what we are producing and unfortunately we could do lots more on this front.  Investment is one thing, but visioning by Government, indeed the business sector is even more important. We have seen recession come and go in the past, we have learned significant lessons from this time.  We should not wait until the economy gets worse before we tackle this problem.  We have the capacity, knowledge and PEOPLE to do this right now. If we see the dissemination of all sectors even more, in the north west, then we might suffer even more than in the 80’s.  A fate we shouldn’t visit on our people AGAIN.

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