The Western Region is facing significant education, enterprise and employment challenges. A more integrated approach to these ‘3Es’ is crucial to reverse high unemployment and emigration, particularly among the region’s young people. Policies and actions which recognise how closely connected the ‘3Es’ are will help enterprises to grow and create badly needed jobs in the region. That’s according to a new Policy Briefing Education, Enterprise & Employment: How can better integration of the 3Es drive growth in the Western Region? published today by the Western Development Commission (WDC).
Pauline White, Policy Analyst at the WDC said: “The Western Region is currently trying to tackle a number of urgent challenges. How can we reduce unemployment, raise education levels, create enterprises in new sectors and limit the loss of our young people?”
“To create employment we need to grow and expand enterprises. To support this, education and training must provide the skills needed by these enterprises, as well as work with them to improve their innovation levels. This is particularly important in sectors where the region has future growth potential such as medical devices, renewable energy, tourism, creative industries and food. Acquiring skills which are needed by enterprises will also make it easier for jobseekers to find employment or set up their own business. Clearly, future job creation and growth depends on how well the ‘3Es’ interact within the region,” she continued.
The Briefing says that, currently, policies and advice for each of the ‘3Es’ are generally developed and published separately. Although efforts are under way to deal with them in a more joined-up manner, the WDC makes five specific proposals which, it says, will achieve greater integration among the ‘3Es’ and also maximise the impact of existing resources.
1. Identify and respond to short and long term regional skills needs: by establishing regional workforce development fora to determine skills needs and how they can be met regionally.
2. Broker relations between higher education and enterprise: a single point of contact to help businesses make contact and work with higher educational institutions.
3. Address the specific issues of jobseekers in smaller centres and rural areas: by supporting access to education and work placements, re-skilling young men who have lost jobs in construction and supporting local ‘learning mentors’ to advise and support jobseekers who are returning to education.
4. Make access to enterprise support easier: through a regional cross-referral system among enterprise support agencies to ensure entrepreneurs are ‘always at the right door’.
5. Encourage job creation: by actively developing the region’s growth sectors, supporting locally trading businesses, improving access to finance, investing in critical infrastructure and supporting sales and marketing activities.
“In the current period of limited resources, a joined-up approach to the ‘3Es’ is not only desirable but necessary. If we better understand how policies for one ‘E’, for example education provision, impacts on the other ‘Es’, such as jobseeker’s employability, and we then actively try to strengthen these relationships we can get the greatest benefit from public spending,” concluded Ms. White.
The Policy Briefing is the fourth in a series of briefings from the WDC which highlight and provide discussion and analysis of key regional policy issues. It is available for download on www.wdc.ie/publications/reports-and-papers/reports-2011/
For further information please contact:
Pauline White, Policy Analyst, Western Development Commission, 086 832 8055
Bernadette Mullarkey, Bane Mullarkey, 086 806 2540