Ibec Mid-West and Kerry, at a meeting of business leaders in Limerick today (Wednesday), have called for urgent action to ensure the region reaped the full rewards of the national economic recovery.
The event, entitled, The skills gap: Making the right connections, is supported by primary sponsor, Electric Ireland and communications partner Vodafone Ireland.
Ibec set out the key priorities to drive growth and job creation in the region, including the need for greater infrastructure investment and new structures to ensure that the education and training system is closely aligned with the skills needs of employers in the region.
Speaking at the event, Ibec regional president and CEO, Shannon Foynes Port Company, Pat Keating said, “Ireland is on the way back, but not all parts of the country are feeling the benefits. The Mid West is still playing catch up. Unemployment remains too high and those out of work are not always getting the right training to help them back to work. Although unemployment in the Mid-West has fallen by 5.2 percentage points since 2012, employment has only risen 1.8% far below the national average of 5% due to demographic changes. As a result the unemployment rate in the region is 1.6% higher than Dublin.
“Addressing this will take time, but it must be a priority and requires closer engagement between employers and education providers. We need a regional forum for local stakeholders to work together in building the skills of the Mid-West. We have an excellent university, some high quality colleges and institutes of technology; getting them cooperating and collaborating better with businesses is crucial.”