02/07/2008

North West Job Prospects In Focus

Sligo and Leitrim business and employment matters are in the news this week with the newly elected Cathaoirleach of Sligo, Jude Devins remaining upbeat in the face of a national downturn in trade and business prospects - while others warn that action is needed to defeat increasing unemployment levels.

"Sligo is open for business and wanting to attract more private investment and Government investment," Jude Devins said.

The 31 year-old Fianna Fail Councillor says he's fully aware that the coming year will be difficult for the Council with Government cutbacks expected and a period of recession imminent.

However he's hoping to ensure this year that Sligo receives its fair share of resources from central Government.

Also, the Director of the Small Firms Association (SFA) has called for more focus on the country's regional development policies if the job losses crisis that currently exists is to be tackled.

Figures obtained by the Small Firms Association show that 440 people in the North West have been made redundant during the first six months of this year.

This figure represents people who were in full-time employment for at least two years.

It showed that Donegal has seen the highest number of redundancies, with 264 losing their jobs in the first six months of this year.

Also, 116 people have lost their jobs in Sligo during that same period, with Leitrim recording a figure of 60.

Patricia Callan, Director of the SFA said putting better infrastructure in place in the North West will be essential if businesses in the region are to thrive.

Meanwhile, the Roscommon South Leitrim TD Denis Naughten has stated his own view on the way forward.

He said that some sections of the workforce need to be re-trained if the current rise in unemployment is to be addressed in the North West.

The Fine Gael Deputy said that recent Central Statistics Office figures show 90% of jobs that were created in the previous 12 months were filled by non Irish workers, while, 18% of those unemployed are non-Irish.

Deputy Naughten suggested that language training for these people may help them find work and cut the numbers on the live register, but he believed that the North West appeared to be suffering most as the economy slows.

He said that unemployment is currently growing at 20% nationally, yet on average was at 32% in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.

Deputy Naughten said steps need to be put in place that will benefit the entire workforce, sooner, rather than later.

(BMcC)

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