New figures smash old myths

Western Region is attracting the young and entrepreneurs

Anyone who thinks of the Western Region as being behind and not a thriving economy needs a reality check as this outdated view is completely at variance with research undertaken by the Western Development Commission (WDC), according to its Chief Executive, Gillian Buckley.

Commenting on the figures produced in the WDC’s latest publication, The Western Region – Key Statistics, Ms. Buckley said that this snapshot of the region finally laid to rest some of the myths about the West and added that if the Region had the appropriate level of infrastructure required for a modern economy, the region could make a further dramatic economic contribution to the country as a whole.

Ms. Buckley said, “All regions have their good points and some downsides, but this analysis shows that the West is thriving in many ways, particularly if you want to set up or expand a business. Emigration, which had been the scourge of the Western Region, has been completely reversed with the population at work in the region rising 46% in the ten years up to 2006. The Region is holding its own in the creation of knowledge sector jobs; such firms accounted for 49% of all agency assisted jobs in 2006, only just behind the national level of 52%.”

The statistics, which can be downloaded from the Western Development Commission website, www.wdc.ie, also confirm the high educational profile of young people from the region. Figures on rates of admission to higher educational institutions show that all seven western counties are well ahead of the national average of 55%. Sligo, at 72%, tops the list with Galway, Mayo and Leitrim also well above 60%.

Ms. Buckley added: “We want to attract both people and industries to locate in the Western Region and we always ‘sell’ the region on the basis of its attraction in terms of a work/life balance. One of the most striking figures in our report is how little time is spent by people in the region commuting. Over a third of the Region’s workers spend less than a quarter of an hour getting to work, well ahead of the national average and considerably more than those within the Greater Dublin region. As I said, there are downsides, and one of the more startling facts thrown up by the research is that only 2% of those in the Western Region use bus or train to get to work while the national average is four times this figure, which clearly shows the absence of adequate public transport in the region. The other big infrastructural deficit, which again the figures demonstrate starkly, is the absence of broadband. Only 13% of households in the West had broadband in 2006 against a national average of 20%.”

She concluded, “There are 60 pages of statistics on the Region in the booklet, which we hope will be useful to anyone interested in knowing more about how things really are in the Western Region today.”