Updated: 04/10/17 : 05:49:12
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Regional investment crucial for job creation – new report

Unemployment rates are continuing to fall and the economy is doing well but the government needs to recognise that regional investment is crucial for job creation.

This is according to the Quarterly Labour Market Report, released today by Sligo-based Recruitment and HR Services Group Collins McNicholas.

Regional investment, Dublin property prices, and youth unemployment are the three areas that the company believe need to be focused on.

The report shows a 9% growth in registered job vacancies with Collins McNicholas in the third quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year.

Also, the number of candidates registering with Collins McNicholas has increased by 11% in the same period.

REGIONAL INVESTMENT

The report noted that companies locating their business in a regional city was an option to overcome the cost pressures of the Dublin market.

“Companies value locating their businesses where there is a hub of talent, with other similar companies clustered in the same area. Ireland’s small scale makes it more viable for companies to locate in different parts of the country without sacrificing their ability to source suitable professionals,” said Niall Murray, Managing Director of Collins McNicholas in the report.

Key to attracting Foreign Direct Investment in the regions is having a suitable infrastructure to support it. Everything from motorway access, proximity to international airports, the presence of a third-level educational institute, and reliable high-speed internet needs to be in place for a large multinational to consider setting up a business in one of Ireland’s regional cities.

The report noted that there had been some positive initiatives in this area, most recently the new 57km stretch of motorway from Tuam to Gort, which will open the Limerick to Tuam corridor for better mobility of talent.

“More needs to be done to extend this Atlantic corridor so that a motorway runs continuously from Cork to Letterkenny,” it said.

The benefit of a regional location is that the lower cost of living provides individuals with greater disposable income than their Dublin-based counterparts.

PROPERTY PRICES

The report said that while Dublin has thrived in recent years, which has been great for the national economy, the capital was “at risk of being a victim of its own success”.

The housing crisis is making it increasingly difficult for people to find suitable accommodation. If professionals are unable to source affordable housing it will make job openings more difficult to fill, the report noted.

“Dublin has a fantastic opportunity to lure companies from London that are interested in relocating due to Brexit. But if they cannot source sufficient talent to work in these companies, because people cannot afford to live in Dublin, they will miss out on an opportunity that will not come along again. Job creation will slow if the cost of living makes it too difficult for companies to source talent,” said Mr Murray.

YOUTH EMPLOYMENT


The unemployment rate continues to fall, reaching 6.3% for August 2017. But at 12.7%, youth unemployment is more than double the overall unemployment rate.

“Despite laudable progress in reducing unemployment over the last three years the level of youth unemployment remains stubbornly high. The longer this segment of the population remains out of work the greater the long-term impact on their career and quality of life,” said Mr Murray.

“It is crucial for young people to quickly gain a foothold in the employment market so that they can acquire as much experience as possible and develop a strong set of hard and soft skills that will make them more employable in their careers.”

The report said that the new apprenticeship model should have a clear focus on areas of skills shortages so that young people could be equipped with employable skills and satisfy demand in the job market.

“The JobBridge internship scheme had its shortcomings but it provided some useful job experience for younger professionals who wouldn’t have had those opportunities. A new internship programme needs to be put in place at the earliest opportunity. It is essential that the new programme is properly monitored, with appropriate remuneration and training provided,” said Mr Murray.

CONCLUSION


The report concluded: “The economy is performing well overall, the ESRI expects growth of 3.8% in 2017 and 3.6% in 2016. The medical device, biopharmaceutical, and software sectors are thriving.

On the skills front, there is evidence of a tightness in the supply of talent in certain niche skills. With a continued growth in the numbers taking STEM-related courses at third level, there should be an improved supply of talent for sectors experiencing the most consistent growth – medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and IT. The most important step for job creation now is to encourage the creation of jobs in regional locations.”