Gaeltacht regions enjoyed major STEM jobs boost in 2021

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Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, the Gaeltacht has seen significant STEM job creation as well as a good uptake in people working remotely at digital hubs over the past year.

According to Údarás na Gaeltachta’s end of year statement for 2021, the organisation facilitates around 320 people who work remotely at its network of 27 ‘Gteic’ digital hubs in Irish-speaking areas across the country.

Last year, the organisation was given a €250,000 grant under the Government’s rural investment plan to upgrade 10 existing hubs in Galway, Mayo and Donegal. A Gteic hub in Gaeltacht area Gaobh Dobhair in Donegal was chosen by the international trade and investment consulting firm OCO Global as its base in the area last year.

As well as Gteic’s boost for Gaeltacht areas, Údarás na Gaeltachta reported that 825 new full-time jobs were created in Gaeltacht companies in 2021. This represents the highest number of jobs created in one year since 2008. When job reductions were taken into account, there was a net increase of 446 in overall employment – the largest annual net increase since 1996.

Overall, companies supported by Údarás na Gaeltachta employed 7,809 full-time and 485 part-time staff members at the end of 2021.

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Employment levels in Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies in the Galway, Cork and Waterford Gaeltacht areas are currently at their highest levels in the history of the organisation.

Galway, which has five Gteic hubs, saw high levels of job creation in the medical devices, science and engineering sectors.

Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies Aran Biomedical, Cambus Medical/Freudenberg, ÉireComposites, Zoan Nuáil Teo., Micron Clean and HiTech Health all drove job creation in the area. There was a total of 337 new jobs created in the Galway Gaeltacht last year by Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies.

New Gteic hubs will open in early 2022 on Inis Mór and Inis Meáin. Up to 200 workspaces will be available throughout the Galway Gaeltacht by the end of 2022.

There were 702 full-time jobs in Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies in the Cork Gaeltacht at the end of last year. This represented the highest level of employment for the county in the history of the Údarás na Gaeltachta. Its client companies created 45 new jobs in the Cork Gaeltacht in 2021.

Most of the jobs were created in the engineering, manufacturing and food sectors. Cork already has a Gteic at Béal an Ghaorthaidh where there are co-working spaces for 22 workers. It is due to open another Gteic space in 2022 in Cléire.

Waterford Gaeltacht’s jobs growth was more modest, with six jobs created in 2021. Currently, there are 151 people working in Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies in the area.

Several Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies have benefitted from funding under the Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF). Last year, five of the organisation’s client companies (aided by other partners) had projects worth €15m approved by the DTIF. The companies were HiTech Health, ÉireComposites Teo, Aran Biomedical, Novelplast and Lárionad Acmhainní Nádúrtha operating in sectors ranging from space exploration to green energy.

End of year projections from the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) network also yielded high job creation figures for the past year. LEO clients created more than 7,400 jobs in 2021. That figure was up from figure was up from the 5,585 that were created by LEO client companies in 2020.

LEOs financially supported 7,158 small businesses in their portfolio across the country. These companies employed 35,729 people. A significant majority (85pc) of those employed in LEO supported companies were based outside the Dublin region.

The LEOs also provided substantial funded supports to thousands of other small businesses across the country with programmes such as the Trading Online Voucher, Lean for Micro and Green for Micro along with training and mentoring.

Padraic McElwee, chair of the network of LEOs, said the figures were “a testament to Ireland’s small business community.”

He added that the LEOs would continue to work with Enterprise Ireland and the local authorities in 2022 to ensure small businesses “get the best possible supports.”

Last week, Enterprise Ireland announced its highest jobs gain in a single year. Its client companies now employ almost as many people as multinationals do in Ireland. The organisation plans to further its collaboration with the LEOs over the next few years as part of its new three-year strategy to grow its start-up pipeline.

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