45,700 people work in Industry in Western Region

  • Western Region home to 45.7% of Irish MedTech jobs
  • 53% of Western Region’s total Industry employment is in MedTech, Chemicals & Pharma and Agri-food
  • 55% of Industry jobs in foreign owned firms
  • Western Region home to both highest and lowest share working in Industry in Ireland – Ballyhaunis (41.9%) and Bundoran (3.5%)

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has published a new report analysing employment data for Industry in the Western Region.  Industry includes mining, utilities and waste management but by far the largest element is manufacturing.

In 1996, Industry accounted for 21% of total employment in the Western Region.  As the population grew and the region’s economic structure changed, Industry’s relative position declined.  By 2016, 13.7% of all employment in the region was in Industry.

It is still however the region’s largest employment sector and is more important here than nationally (11.4%).   The actual numbers working in Industry declined from 47,319 in 1996 to 45,754 two decades later.

The MedTech sector is by far the largest industrial activity in the Western Region. It accounts for 27.7% of the region’s total industrial employment, more than double the national average of 12.1%.  In fact the Western Region is home to 45.7% of all MedTech jobs in Ireland.

The region’s second largest industrial activity is Chemicals & Pharma at 14.1%.  Pharmaceuticals is the largest element which, together with MedTech, shows the region’s strength in Life Sciences.

While Agri-food is the third largest, its share in the region (11.2%) is considerably smaller than nationally (17.1%). This is partly due to the strong concentration of Agri-food in the other regions e.g. South East, as well as the nature of farming in the region.

 Author of the report, WDC Policy Analyst Pauline White says:

‘The relative importance of Industry differs across the region.  For Galway and Clare, it is the largest employment sector, while for Donegal it is only fourth.  The counties’ industrial profiles also differ. 

MedTech dominates in Galway City and County, which have the highest shares working in this sector in Ireland.  It is also the largest industrial employer for Leitrim.  For Sligo and Mayo, Chemicals & Pharma is largest with Sligo having the second highest share nationally.  Agri-food is the main industrial employer for Donegal and Roscommon, while in Clare it is Computer & Electronic equipment. Clare has the second highest share in this industrial activity in the country. ’ 

At 41.9% of total employment, Ballyhaunis has the highest share of residents working in Industry among Ireland’s 200 towns and cities (1,500+ population).  Shannon (31.9%) and Tuam (25%) are also in the top 10 nationally.  The Western Region however is also home to the Irish town with the lowest share working in Industry, Bundoran (3.5%).

Total Industry employment in the Western Region increased by 13.7% between 2011 and 2016, greater than nationally (+9.4%).  Transport Equipment (+52.7%), MedTech (+30.2%) and Computer & Electronic (+21.2%) grew most strongly.  Automotive supplier Valeo in Tuam, growth in many MedTech multinationals as well as electronics manufacturing around Shannon contributed to this pattern.

The Western Region’s industrial base is characterised by higher levels of foreign ownership.  In 2017, 55.1% of all jobs in industrial firms in the region (that received assistance from IDA, EI or Udarás) were in foreign owned companies.  This contrasted with 45.3% nationally.  Foreign owned companies’ share increased during the early years of the recession and the recovery further reinforced their position.

According to Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the WDC:

‘Industry plays a greater role in the Western Region’s labour market than nationally.  As policy increasingly focuses on services, it is vital that the importance of manufacturing continues to be recognised and the sector supported. High-tech manufacturing is very strong in the region however, automation poses a threat to some jobs in this, as well as in more traditional sectors.  Upskilling for the industrial workforce, to adapt to changing skill needs, and greater industrial diversification should be key priorities for the region.’ 

Download ‘Industry in the Western Region: Regional Sectoral Profile’ and summary documents from https://www.wdc.ie/publications

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact Pauline White, Policy Analyst, WDC on +353 86 832 8055

Notes to Editor:

  • The Western Development Commission (WDC) is a statutory body promoting social and economic development in the Western Region. It was established in 1998 to cover counties Clare, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo. wdc.ie
  • The WDC’s Policy Analysis Team analyses regional and rural issues, suggests solutions to regional difficulties and provides a regional perspective on national policy objectives. The Regional Sectoral Profile is part of a suite of WDC Insights publications which aim to provide accessible information for people in the Western Region, based on analysis of key socio-economic data and providing insights on important issues for the region and its counties. Other outputs of the WDC’s Policy Analysis Team include Policy Briefings, Reports, Submissions and the weekly WDC Insights Blog.
  • Data Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016 and Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, Annual Employment Survey 2017 (special run). Analysis of data was undertaken by the Western Development Commission.