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What is the South East APJ

The South East Action Plan for Jobs (APJ) covers the 5 counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. The Action Plan was launched in September, 2015 and the then Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Minister Bruton appointed Frank O’Regan to Chair the Implementation Committee. Frank is an entrepreneur and former Vice President of Global Operations for Bausch & Lomb, one of the largest multi-national employers based in the region.

Who is Involved?

The South East APJ Implementation Committee comprises of representatives from all of the main stakeholder organisations in the region, including:

  • the 5 local authorities and the Southern Regional Assembly;
  • the enterprise support agencies (i.e. IDA; EI and LEOs);
  • other state agencies (e.g. Failte Ireland; Design & Craft Council of Ireland; Education & Training Boards; etc.)
  • third level educational institutes (i.e. WIT; IT Carlow; and LIT);
  • Business and Industry Networks (e.g. IBEC; Chambers of Commerce; Skillnets); and
  • Local Industry Champions. In addition to the Chairman, Frank O’Regan, there are a number of other leading entrepreneurs from across the region who have agreed to give of their time in a voluntary capacity to assist the Committee in their work. These are: Patsy Carney, Eirgen Pharma; Pat McLoughlin, Abbott Vascular; Terry Clune, Taxback; Seamus Kilgannon, Schivo; Liam Griffin, Griffin Hotel Group; Des Whelan, WLR FM; Karen Hennessy, Design and Craft Council of Ireland; and Rachel Doyle, Arboretum Home & Garden Heaven.

All of the agencies with a role and remit for developing the region are involved in implementing the South East APJ, and the participation of the local industry champions brings an entrepreneurial approach to the process and ensures it is a real public-private partnership for the benefit of the region.

What is the purpose?

The South East APJ has 2 main objectives by 2020:

  1. facilitate the creation of an additional 25,000 jobs in the region; and
  2. bring the unemployment rate in the region to within 1% of the national average.

The Plan sets out a wide range of actions to help achieve these objectives, including actions aimed at:

  • increasing the number of start-up businesses by at least 30% (e.g. through better mentoring and incubation space for start-ups, and enhanced supports through the Local Enterprise Offices);
  • increasing investments by overseas companies by up to 40%, which would mean at least 44 new investments in the coming years, delivered through measures including new advance technology buildings, and improvements in branding of the region as a great place to live and work;
  • increasing the number of jobs in exporting companies, in particular in manufacturing, agri-food, business services and biopharma/medtech;
  • increasing food exports through a range of measures, including the development of an artisan food hub, creation of an agricultural manufacturing cluster and setting-up a dedicated agri research centre;
  • establishing a financial services hub, as well as a joint IDA/Enterprise Ireland strategy for Business Process Outsourcing;
  • establishing an industry-led forum and centre of excellence in the region for the Biopharma/medtech sector; and
  • accelerating the tourism targets, in particular attracting over 300,000 extra tourists and to create at least 5,000 associated jobs.

South East APJ Implementation Committee members at the meeting held in Waterford on 28th October, 2016.

How do we go about our work?

The Committee has agreed a comprehensive implementation structure to assist in the effective delivery of the South East APJ. This includes the establishment of:

  • An executive project team: the 5 local authorities have provided funding towards the recruitment of a project team to oversee the implementation of the Plan, namely a Director, Sean McKeown, who has been in situ since the end of March 2016; and a Project Executive currently being recruited.
  • Sectoral Sub-Groups: comprising 6 sectors of strategic advantage identified in the region (i.e. Agri-Food; Tourism; Pharma/Med-Tech; Global Business Services and ICT; Engineering; and Design & Creative Industries) and 4 Capability Enablers (i.e. Critical Infrastructure; Enterprise & Entrepreneurship Supports; Education & Skills Provision; and Regional Branding). Each of the Sub-Groups will be led by a local champion (e.g. successful entrepreneurs from the region). Many of the sub-Groups have held stakeholder meetings to discuss priority actions.
  • An Advisory Group (i.e. the Chair, 5 Local Authority CEOs and 10 Sub-Group champions) to: review progress reports and issues arising in relation to the implementation of actions; make recommendations to the Implementation Committee; and to provide strategic advice to the Director.
  • An Action Monitoring Committee (AMC) of key Agency Stakeholders to: undertake detailed monitoring / review of progress in implementing the actions in advance of the Implementation Committee meetings; report to the Implementation Committee on any issues arising; and to help assess the impact of the South East APJ, including recommending indicators and targets for actions contained in the Plan as appropriate.

A number of sectoral Workshops and stakeholder meetings have been held to progress actions and to further develop the South East APJ process, including:

  • Pharma & Life Sciences; Engineering; and Global Business Services & ICT Workshops held in Waterford on 15th February;
  • Small & Artisan Food; Getting More Innovative Start-ups; and Creative Industries Workshops held in Carlow on 1st June;
  • Regional Branding; and Tourism Workshops held in Clonmel on 23rd June;
  • Regional Meetings of key Stakeholder agencies to consider: progressing actions relating to the Engineering sector (on 30th May and 17th November); progressing actions relating to the Design & Creative Industries sector (on 13th September, 2016); developing a regional network of greenways and blueways in the south east (on 1st December, 2016); and organising a regional showcase of the key employment sectors in teh region (on 12th December, 2016).

The Workshops and Stakeholder Meetings have been attended by the main development agencies, entrepreneurs and business people. Reports including recommendations have been compiled for each of the Workshops and Meetings. The many ideas and suggestions put forward will be incorporated into the actions to be delivered in the Plan.

Participants at the Tourism Workshop held in Clonmel on 23rd June, 2016, including (front row): Jenny de Saulles, Head of Failte Ireland’s Ancient East Unit; Joe MacGarth, CEO, Tipperary County Council; Frank O’Regan, Chairman, South East APJ; Isabel Cambie, Manager South Tipperary Development.

Working Closely with Regional Skills Forum

The South East APJ has developed close working relationships with the South East Regional Skills Forum and are working on a number of joint initiatives aimed at helping to meet the skills needs of industry in the region. These include:

  • a Pharma MedTech Skills Survey being undertaken by Dr June Frisby of the major employers in these sectors in the region; and
  • a Pilot Engineering Career Traineeship in conjunction with the ETBs in the region.