Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has been told by Jobs Minister Heather Humphreys that 14,700 more people were in employment in the Mid-West at the end of 2018 than in 2015 when the Regional Action Plan for Jobs initiative was launched.

Responding to a Dáil question from Deputy Carey who asked what progress had been made in driving job creation in the Mid  West, Minister Humphreys said that unemployment in the region had reduced from 12 percent to 5.6 percent over the past three years.

However, she said it was important that the focus moved beyond numbers of jobs created to quality and sustainable jobs.

“Future Jobs Ireland which was launched last March includes ambitious targets to achieving an overall jobs uplift of between 10 and 15 per cent in each region by 2020 and to bring  unemployment levels in each region to within at least one percentage point of the State average.

“It is important that unemployment in the Mid-West remains within the 2020 target and enterprise potential is nurtured so that we can build on the significant employment growth achieved in recent years with the creation of sustainable, quality jobs, taking account of new and emerging opportunities and challenges, including Brexit,” Minister Humphreys explained.

“During February and March this year, I launched nine new Regional Enterprise Plans to 2020, including for the Mid-West, which build on the very strong progress made on employment creation under the Regional Action Plan for Jobs 2015-2017. I am pleased to say that implementation has commenced in all regions.

“Shaped from the ‘bottom-up’ by regional stakeholders, and overseen by my Department, the new Plans complement national level policies and programmes from the ‘top-down’ with strong alignment to Ireland’s national enterprise policy, Enterprise 2025 Renewed and the Future Jobs Ireland initiative.

“The Regional Enterprise Plan for the Mid-West  is focused around five ‘Strategic Objectives’ focused on: the digital and innovation economy; progressing towards a low carbon economy; developing workforce skills; developing the capacity for economic growth; and building a coordinated regional brand.

“The Government has put several funding streams in place to support regional development, and the Mid-West has seen a number of successes through these.

The Mid-West region has already secured more than €9.5 million under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF).

“Guided by this new Regional Enterprise Plan, the Mid-West region is well positioned to realise its enterprise potential,” Minister Humphreys concluded.