Shaping the future of employment in Kilkenny

Jobs and the retail sector will be among the topics discussed as Kilkenny County Council holds the next in is series of public meetings around the county seeking people’s opinions for the county’s new Development Plan.

Jobs and the retail sector will be among the topics discussed as Kilkenny County Council holds the next in is series of public meetings around the county seeking people’s opinions for the county’s new Development Plan.

“Economy and service provision” will be the theme of a meeting on July 18 at 7.30pm at Ferrybank’s Abbey Community College; and “Retail/heritage” will be the theme of a meeting on July 24 at 7.30pm in Kilkenny Castle’s Parade Tower. A meeting on “Heritage” will take place tonight (Wednesday) at 7.30pm in the Castlecomer Community Hall.

The new County and City Development Plans for the period 2014-2020 will provide a planning framework for economic development in Kilkenny over the next six years. What emerges from the debate throughout the plan-making process will be critical in shaping the plan.

According to Eurostat, in March 2012, Ireland had an unemployment rate of 14.5%. Kilkenny has not been immune to this drastic loss in jobs. Live Register figures for Kilkenny as of January 2012 showed a total of 13,479 people unemployed in the county.

So how can the county create enough jobs to offer choice to people who want to work in Kilkenny? What sort of jobs should they be?

The Invest Kilkenny Forum is now forging new links, showcasing local success stories at an international level. There are many high-profile employers in the county, such as Glanbia, State Street, SmartPly and Taxback, so how can the county capitalise on these big names?

A new Research and Innovation Centre opened this year on the campus of St Kieran’s College, an initiative between Waterford Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Carlow and the Kilkenny Local Authorities’ Invest Kilkenny campaign that will see entrepreneurs, academics and start-up companies working side by side. Kilkenny’s strengths already lie in financial services and the agricultural sectors – should the county continue to consolidate these areas or look elsewhere for new opportunities?

Creative industries are also Kilkenny’s strength. What can be done to encourage creative employment to flourish?

Members of the public can make a submission on these topics or on any other Development Plan issue from now until August 24. Further information is available at ourplan.kilkenny.ie.