The most recent report of the Western Development Commission which showed jobs growth in the western region at 2.8%, less than half the 6.3% in the rest of the country emphasised the absolute necessity for high speed broadband in the western region.
Referring to the Report, Independent MEP Marian Harkin said that the ongoing reduction in the percentage of jobs in the services sector in the western region required priority to be given to the installation of the IT structure necessary to facilitate the development of services jobs.
“In the first quarter of 2012 the percentage of jobs in services has declined in the western region compared with the figure for the state. Conversely the percentage of jobs in traditional sectors, such as agriculture, construction and industry, had exceeded the state level with the dependents on agricultural generated jobs particularly obvious”, she stressed.
“All indications are that in the future the knowledge and administration sectors will see exponential growth compared with the traditional industry and agriculture sectors, and the western region is currently particularly weak in the growth areas”, the Independent MEP said.
Referring to last week’s announcement that people in the rural areas of the UK are to have a legal right to broadband she said that a similar commitment was necessary for Ireland’s rural areas if they were to be able to exploit opportunities in the knowledge and services sectors which are forecast to be the main sources of jobs into the future.
“Successive governments have given only lip service to delivering balanced regional development and, if there is to be any change to this position, it is the rural areas such as those covered by the Western Development Commission that must be prioritised in the roll out of high speed broadband at the earliest possible date”, Independent Marian Harkin concluded.