Saturday, 20 September 2014

Regional Geography - Secondary Economic Activities in the Western Region

Secondary Economic Activities in the Western Region

The basis for a strong secondary or manufacturing sector is the strength of the primary sector. It is also based on the location of the region, its landscape and its population.

The manufacturing sector is poorly developed in the western region, in comparison to much of the rest of the country.

One reason for this is the Western regions workforce. The western region has a smaller pool of skilled workers than much of the rest of the country. In part this has to do with the regions smaller population as less than 10% of the country's population live in the west. In addition there are fewer third level centres of education. While somewhere like the Dublin region has UCD, DCU, DIT, Trinity and many others the West has only UCG and GMIT. International organisations such as Intel, Dell and Microsoft have overlooked the region as a result of this factor.

There is also a smaller pool of unskilled workers. There is only one city in the area and very few towns with a population of over 5000 people. As a result the West's industrial sectors is mainly focused around Galway, the place with the largest and most skilled workforce. 60% of Roscommon's industry is based on food processing. Galway is more focused on high tec industries like computers, medical supplies and chemicals. 17% of GAlway's population are employed in the secondary sector.

The second factor that has held back development of secondary economic activities is the regions poor infrastructure. Traditionally the west has lagged behind other regions in this regard. The Western region does have air, rail, road and port access, mainly service in each of these areas when compared to somewhere like the Dublin region. Until recently the West had no strip of motorway. The M6 finally opened in 2010, linking Galway with Dublin. This allows for easier access of people, raw materials and finished products. There are proposals that more motorway will exist in this region. The western region has air access through both Galway and Knock airports. They both offer internal and limited international flights but both operate on a far smaller scale than Dublin airport.

Another proof that the West lags behind in infrastructural development is in relation to its light rail. While Dublin has had the Luas for many years now, Galway's 'Gluas' is still only in the proposal stage. This lack of development of a local transport network makes industrial development less likely. One of the most limiting aspects is the West's weak electrical grid. Even if power-hungry industries were willing to over look the lack of good transport, they would still be unable to set up in the region, due to limited supply of electricity. 

If the question asks for factors that have affected the development of industry, give both workforce and infrastructure but shorten both to suit (does not have to be a 50/50 balance)
Beware that other factors have affected the development of industry:
  • smaller market
  • distance from core regions, industry typically locates in core areas
  • lack of political power - voice
  • one good point is grants are available tax free/low tax incentives

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