The number of people out of work in Galway has fallen by 10.3% in Galway city 8.6% in Galway county over the last year, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office. There are still far too many people out of work throughout Galway, but progress is being made and the Government is determined to build on this in the year ahead.
The Action Plan for Jobs (APJ), which is being led by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, is the Government’s blueprint for rebuilding our economy. We have moved away from the days of speculation and property bubbles, and instead, step by step, we are building an economy based on enterprise and innovation, underpinned by sustainable sectors like agriculture, tourism and manufacturing. The APJ is a systematic approach involving all 16 Government departments and 46 State agencies, to ensure every element of Government is engaged in job creation.
By the time Fianna Fáil left office in early 2011, 1,600 jobs were being lost every week. The private sector had shed a massive 250,000 during the Party’s last few years in power. This left a devastating legacy of unemployment across the West, but this situation is turning around. Now, about 1,200 new jobs are being created nationally every week. Last year alone, 61,000 new jobs were added to the economy.
More than 5,000 people in the West gained jobs in the past year as the CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey shows the drop of 2.5% in the West’s unemployment rate surpassing the national average. The unemployment rate for the West has fallen from a staggering rate of 17% in the second quarter of 2011 to 11.9% in the fourth quarter of 2013 as the numbers of people at work in the region, at 185,900, reach their highest level since mid-2010.
The challenge now for the Government is to ensure that these jobs are being created right across the country. The IT sector is booming, but we fully realise that not everyone can get a job in a tech company. That’s why this year’s APJ includes further supports for small businesses and specific strategies for the agriculture, tourism and manufacturing sectors. The Government wants to continue to attract leading international firms to Irish shores, but we also want to support the domestic economy by boosting entrepreneurship.
Small businesses are playing a crucial role in our economic recovery, employing at least 650,000 people nationwide. To quote Minister Bruton, entrepreneurs are proving to be the heroes of our recovery story. The roll out of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in every county across the country will help to drive entrepreneurial activity by providing businesses in Galway and elsewhere with access to national enterprise expertise at a local level. The Galway LEO will develop a local plan for boosting enterprise, setting targets for job creation and new business start-ups.
Tourism will continue to play a vital role in our economy, especially in a very popular destination such as Galway. 2013 was a bumper year for tourism thanks in no small part to the success of the Gathering. Nationally, almost 15,000 new jobs were created in the tourism sector last year, and I want ensure that as many of these jobs as possible are being created in Galway. The Wild Atlantic Way, which will be formally launched this month, will encompass Galway City and Connemara and will be the world’s longest defined driving route. It will build on the success of the Gathering , will provide additional compelling reasons to visit our region and contribute immensely to the vital role that tourism plays in our communities.
Agriculture has been the good news story of the Irish economy, with exports hitting a bumper €10 billion last year. Through both the APJ and measures announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD, a range of supports are being put in place to support the growth of agri-food and marine businesses. Last year, 25,000 new jobs were created in the agricultural sector. We want to boost this figure further in 2014. There are particular opportunities for growth in the dairy, meat, seafood and drink sectors and the Government will continue to strengthen our enhanced trade links with countries such as China, where Irish food and drink exports are booming.
The pace of job creation here is outstripping all of our European counterparts. Galway has attracted some high quality investments over the last year, such as the 400 jobs created in total by SAP and Merit. Galway city is well placed to attract further high quality foreign direct investment, but measures being in place by the Government will also help businesses across a range of sectors in Galway city and county to grow and create local jobs.