WDC publish new Industry report
THE Western Development Commission (WDC) has
published a new report analysing employment data for
Industry in Donegal. Industry includes
mining, utilities and waste management but by far
the largest element is manufacturing. While Industry
has fallen, there has been a shift to higher value
activities with the highest share working in Energy
in the region.
In 1996, Industry accounted for 26.8% of total
employment in county Donegal. The loss of large
scale clothing manufacturers and strong growth in
services meant Industry’s relative position
declined. By 2016, only 9.2% of all employment in
Donegal was in Industry, the lowest share in Ireland
outside of Dublin.
The actual number of Donegal residents working in
Industry halved from 10,670 in 1996 to 5,359 twenty
years later. The decline was even more dramatic for
women with a 75% fall in the number of women working
in Industry in Donegal. At present, 77.1% of those
working in Industry in the county are men.
Agri-food is Donegal’s largest
Over a quarter of total
industrial employment in Donegal is in Agri-food and
it is the county’s largest industrial employer.
Within this, seafood processing is particularly
important and Donegal is home to 32% of such jobs in
While there were massive declines in Clothing &
Textiles, it still accounts for 9% of total
industrial employment. Donegal has by far the
highest share in Ireland (national average is 2%).
The sector has shifted from large scale
manufacturing to higher value activities. At 7%,
Donegal has the Western Region’s highest share
working in Energy.
Author of the report, WDC Policy Analyst, Pauline
White says "For Donegal residents, seafood
processing, medical devices, electricity generation,
fabricated metals and textiles are the largest
industrial activities. Irish SMEs have a
particularly strong presence. Donegal has the
highest rate of self-employment in Industry in the
Western Region. Strengths such as the international
reputation of Donegal Tweed, the county’s strong
fishing tradition and considerable renewable energy
resources, influence its industrial profile."
Among Donegal’s towns, Buncrana has the highest
share working in Industry where it accounts for 11%
of total employment. As this data is based on where
a person lives, people living in Buncrana may be
commuting to work in another town or across the
At just 3.5% and 4.9% of total employment, Bundoran
and Carndonagh have the smallest shares working in
Industry among Ireland’s 200 towns and cities.
According to Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the WDC,
"Although Industry’s relative importance as an
employer in Donegal has declined, it remains the
county’s fourth largest employment sector. The
nature of Donegal’s Industry has changed, with a far
greater focus on high value activities based on
Donegal’s strengths. Given Agri-food’s substantial
role, improved competitiveness and diversification
will be key to adapting to Brexit. Automation also
poses a threat to some manufacturing jobs across all
sectors. Upskilling for the industrial workforce, to
adapt to changing skill needs as well as greater
industrial diversification, should be a key priority
for the county."