• 533 jobs created in 2015
• A significant net increase of 215 full-time jobs
• Lowest level of job losses on record
• 7,869 jobs in client companies at year end
• New projects expected to create an additional 580 jobs with investment of €57m
• Lead Organisations preparing language plans for their Language Planning Areas
Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies created 533 full-time equivalent jobs in 2015. There was a net gain of 215 jobs, the highest net increase since 2005. At year end, total employment in Údarás client companies stood at 7,869, comprising 7,268 full-time and 601 part-time jobs. This strong net job creation performance was achieved as a result of client companies expanding and increasing their employment levels, an increase in the number of start-ups, and fewer job losses throughout the year. There was a significant drop in the number of jobs lost, a decrease of 50% on the numbers lost in 2014 – resulting in the lowest job attrition rate on record.
Employment in the Gaeltacht
The largest increase in employment took place in companies in the Donegal and Galway Gaeltacht areas in 2015. The employment base is now at a stable level, client companies are more competitive and a higher number are exporting. There was an increase in employment in companies operating in the pharmaceutical, medical devices, food and niche manufacturing sectors throughout the year. Job losses occurred mostly in enterprises operating in the services and traditional manufacturing sectors.
The Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Joe McHugh T.D. said, “These results published by an tÚdarás today are very positive news. The figures show that an additional 215 people were employed in Gaeltacht companies at the end of 2015 in comparison with the previous year. This growth in employment is seen mostly in companies engaged in exporting, an indication that that Údarás’ strategy of encouraging Gaeltacht companies to focus on exports is succeeding.”
Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Chief Executive, Steve Ó Cúláin, commented that more than half of the net job increases occurred in companies located in the Donegal Gaeltacht, a total of 116 jobs. “An tÚdarás has focussed a lot of its resources on the Donegal Gaeltacht due to the high number of jobs lost in the region in 2014. I am satisfied to see our efforts coming to fruition with the growth experienced in the area. These companies now have a stronger foundation and many are undertaking new expansion plans. The investment we have made in our business infrastructure locally is helping to attract new projects, and we have seen an increase in the number of business enquiries. We are also delighted to be in a position to support Randox Teo in undertaking significant development over the next 5 years.”
In line with the Government’s increased efforts to stimulate job growth in the regions, as outlined in its Action Plans for Jobs, Mr Ó Cúláin added that the number of new start-ups established in 2015 throughout the Gaeltacht constituted grounds for optimism. “30 new businesses were established in the Gaeltacht last year, and at year end more than 60 people were employed in these enterprises. It is clear to Údarás that there are opportunities to attract new projects and it is important that efforts are continued to attract external and domestic investment to create employment. Further development of local and business infrastructure and the provision of competitive broadband is central to achieving these objectives.”
He also commented on the development programme that has taken place in the aquaculture sector in South Connemara over the past two years, “It is clear that a single bay management plan is the most effective method of developing this sector for the benefit of small coastal Gaeltacht communities,” he said.
Over 580 new jobs approved for the Gaeltacht in 2015
Last year, Údarás na Gaeltachta approved a number of new projects which will see the creation of 586 additional jobs and involve a projected investment of €57 million as the projects are developed over the next few years. Taking into account Údarás’ targeted focus on the Donegal Gaeltacht last year, jobs were approved primarily in this area. Companies operating mainly in the medical devices, niche manufacturing, food and services sectors have plans to expand.
Further growth in the economic impact of Údarás-supported companies
ABSEI research conducted in 2015 indicates that Údarás client companies achieved sales to the value of €843 million. Exports increased by 12%, to €525 million. The ratio of exports to total sales stood at 62%. Gaeltacht companies have a significant economic impact on both the Gaeltacht economy and the national economy. 73% of expenditure was in the Irish services sector, equivalent to €388 million of direct expenditure in the local economy. Client companies spent €192 million on payroll annually, with an average salary of €41,000 per employee in companies with 10 or more employees, an increase of 5% on the previous year.
Social Employment Schemes
Social employment schemes managed by An tÚdarás have an important role in providing work experience and training in the Gaeltacht community. Last year, more than 1,000 participants and 50 supervisors were involved in 47 schemes throughout the Gaeltacht. In 2015, a total of 387 new participants were placed on these schemes and 397 participants completed their scheme.
Irish Language Planning Activities
Further progress was made in relation to the language planning process, with nine new Language Planning Areas (LPAs) announced during the year. Four LPAs were announced in February and four lead organisations were selected to undertake work in those areas. A further five LPAs were announced at the end of September. The applications received are currently being assessed and it is expected that a further five lead organisations will be announced soon. Consequently, a total of 18 lead organisations will be working to prepare language plans in 2016 and it is expected that completed language plans will be submitted to the Minister for approval in the case of nine LPAs during 2016.
During the year, Údarás na Gaeltachta and Foras na Gaeilge established a process for the implementation of the language planning process in Gaeltacht Service Towns in conjunction with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and information meetings will be held in three chosen towns to begin the next phase. An tÚdarás has developed resources to raise awareness amongst the Gaeltacht community in relation to the language planning process and to provide support for parents raising their families with Irish.
The Department of Education and Skills undertook a review of the provision of education in Gaeltacht schools during the year. In addition, The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht organised a public consultation process to review the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010–2030 and its implementation over the next five years.
Commenting on these review processes, the Chairperson of Údarás, Anna Ní Ghallachair said, “An tÚdarás has played a central role in this work. In addition to meetings with relevant government departments, we organised three information meetings in the Gaeltacht, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills, to afford the community an opportunity to give their views on the policy recommendations in relation to the provision of education in Gaeltacht schools. We also welcome the decision by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to undertake a consultation process with regard to the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language. An tÚdarás expects that practical, realistic and measurable priorities for the next 5-year period will emerge from the consultation process.”
Mrs Ní Ghallachair said, “Since the implementation of the language planning process began in the Gaeltacht, it is clear that communities have embraced the exercise with enthusiasm and worked diligently in partnership with the State in an effort to address the challenges of maintaining, and increasing use of, the Irish language. An important foundation has been laid down, but the next five-year period is critical if work carried out thus far is to bear fruit. A clear, coordinated strategy, in addition to the provision of adequate resources, is required to build upon this foundation and to ensure success. An integrated approach should be adopted in the language plans, where the Irish language pervades all aspects of life in the community: social, economic and educational. A strong, sustainable community is necessary if the Gaeltacht is to survive as a distinct language community in the future.”
1) The report by Insight Statistical Consultants bases its analysis on figures from the most recent ABSEI (Annual Business Survey of Economic Impact Report). The ABSEI report was carried out in 2015 by The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, on all development agencies.
2) Údarás na Gaeltachta manages and administers the Community Employment Scheme, the Rural Social Scheme, Tús and Tús Nua, funded by the Department of Social Protection.
Outlook for 2016
Thanks to the hard work and resilience of our client companies we are now seeing a significant recovery. Gaeltacht areas by virtue of their location, have suffered more than others during the economic crisis. This underpins Údarás’ strong conviction that Gaeltacht enterprises, although predominantly located in rural areas, can and will grow more jobs with the right support. By continuing our collaborative approach to fostering enterprise across the regions, we can deliver additional jobs over the coming years.
The challenge for An tÚdarás is to build on our clients’ success and target growth in key sectors with potential such as natural resources, life sciences, engineering, internationally traded services and tourism. If the potential of these sectors is harnessed properly and supported, significant growth in jobs can be achieved on the ground by 2020.
An tÚdarás will continue its focus next year on developing the Gaeltacht’s strengths in the key sectors mentioned. A particular emphasis will be placed on developing value-added food enterprises. It will carry on its work in supporting companies operating in sectors associated with new technologies, both information technology and biotechnology. The organisation plans to intensify its engagement with the Gaeltacht diaspora worldwide in an effort to attract outside investment and returning immigrants.
It is expected that the first set of language plans will be submitted to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for approval during 2016 and an tÚdarás welcomes the challenge of working with the lead organisation to implement these plans over the period of the next seven years. An tÚdarás will continue its work in supporting the Language Planning Areas which have begun the formal language planning process, along with the Gaeltacht Service Towns.
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