Unemployment - a symptom or a cause?

Unemployment a symptom or a cause? (Part 1 of 3)

Have You Read ?

Innovate Or Die( Introduction To This Series Of Posts )

The First Of Three Problems:

Our journey begins in my rural home county of Tipperary in Ireland.  Our travels will take us to our 3rd of three problems and the home of lean thinking in Japan.  Japan is still struggling to recover from the four disasters of 311 (more on this in part 3 of 3).  First we visit with job seekers in county Tipperary to explore the first of our three problems.  To better understand is unemployment a symptom or a cause, we need to understand the needs of job seekers.

Unemployment in rural Ireland has taken on a stubborn foot hold and shows no real signs of improvement.  There is a growing need for new innovative thinking to address employers commercial needs and job seekers employment needs.  During this post we will expand to bridge into the second of our three problems.  The second problem calls to action nine towns in county Tipperary to ‘Collaborate To Innovate’ town centre business growth.  Failing to answer this urgent call may invite a more serious challenge to “Innovate or Die!”.

Ready your best innovative thinking because its time to begin our journey into the first of our three problems …


Problem 1: “Unemployment is it a symptom or a cause?”

Our journey begins as we ramble out the door in search of insights into a question.  The question is … “Is high local unemployment a symptom or a cause of a failed recovery in county Tipperary?”


In Search Of Data To Inform Learning

Following on from a research report a few years back.  I wanted to revisit the old 2014 data and see what’s new in 2016.  The numbers of interest relate to jobs vacancy’s in county Tipperary.  Using the Irish Times jobs section I ran a very quick rule of thumb experiment.  My search for the total number of vacancy’s inside a 50km radius of county Tipperary returned zero, nada, nothing … what a sobering result (15th June 2016).


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Digging Deeper into the Data

My unsatisfactory search of the Irish Times nagged at me.  A more accurate query would be to utilise the main Department of Protection (DSP) Intreo Kiosk system.  I limited my search to only full time jobs advertised in both north and south county Tipperary.  This limitation excludes Part Time, JobBridge, TUS, CE, Work Placements, Graduate or Self Employment opportunities.

Here’s what my query returned …


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22 x full time jobs in Tipperary (North) and …


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34 x full time jobs in Tipperary (South).


Yes … that’s  a total of 56 full time jobs available for the entire county of Tipperary in the DSP system.  Note: Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford also see similar figures.  Taken across counties, this result would support the media claims of declining employment opportunities in rural Ireland.


As a cold dark feeling began to pull me further into the numbers, I decided to dig a little deeper as a question kept nagging at me … how many people are there on the live register of unemployed? … here’s what insights I drew from the Central Statistics Office …


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5,605 live register claims in North Tipperary with 7,025 further claims in South Tipperary.  While the CSO figure suggests a total of 12,630 on the live register, keep in mind these figures include those who are on the live register but maybe working part time.


While the CSO figure is not an exact or accurate figure by any sense for our purposes, it could offer us some insight as to the possible number or trends in relation to the numbers of job seekers competing for those 56 jobs advertised as per the 15th June 2016 across the county of Tipperary.


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Fuzzy Knowledge … What Have We Learnt So Far?

I don’t know about you but that is a mind boggling freaky economic conundrum for any lean innovator and a serious social problem worth fixing in my personal view.


For the purpose of excluding all those part time workers, lets assume that of the 12,630 live register claims 50% are seeking full time employment.  That haircut brings us to just over 6,000 job seekers for just under 60 local full time jobs which if represented as a ratio could be 100:1.  That’s 100 job seekers for every job.  Now that could be viewed as some serious competition in a rural county like Tipperary.  This gets worst if you consider that only 6,000+ of 56 job seekers will still be unemployed if all the current available jobs were fully filled today.  To bring things fully into perspective, there are just under 3000 unemployed job seekers in Clonmel alone, which is the biggest town of nine major towns in county Tipperary (more on this in part 2 of 3).


I can only imagine, if your CV is anything less than stellar you may perhaps find it difficult to get that much needed opportunity to explain yourself in such a competitive rural jobs market.


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From The Darkside Into The Light

Now I felt the pull of the dark side.  As the force is strong in my family, I beat a hasty retreat and cross back into light so I could marshal all my powers of lean thinking and most inner lean innovation cortex … or is that vortex … not really sure which … could be just a brain storm … any who.


In this new reality, finding a workable social solution is never going to be simple.  One factor often well documented in the local press is that lack of business growth required to create jobs growth.


Is Rural Business Shrinking?

Well, following the 2008 recession, business in rural Ireland retreated, so much so that during a recent town meeting of local town centre businesses, one speaker pointed out to the meeting a statistic which suggested that ‘over 20 main street businesses had closed down in Tipperary Town’ since the recession began.  Consider now that there was approximately 80 town centre businesses in Tipperary Town, that would suggest an estimated 25% of all businesses have shut up shop and vacated the town centre since the recession began.


If rural town centres are losing 25% of all town centre business since the recession began, where did all those employees go? … perhaps other questions maybe worth exploring also like … where did all those consumers go? … if the town centre is shrinking, what if any impact could this have on the wider local social and commercial communities?


Growing Business To Grow Jobs

Recently, Tipperary County Council unveiled a plan to enhance the value of each of nine county Tipperary towns in an effort to attract local consumers back into local town centre retail outlets.  Local retailers are straining under the  pressure of rising costs, falling footfall and shrinking business opportunities.


If business is shrinking, it stands to reason that employment would shrink to reflect this just as growing rural business maybe a possible solution to growing rural employment.  Innovating town centre business is a possible solution to the second of our three problems.  The second problem will become the subject for part 2 or 3 in our continuing journey.


Our journeys end for this post now comes into sight.  Lets revisit our initial question … is high unemployment a symptom or a cause of a failed recovery in county Tipperary?


Its A Question … But Its Also A Call To Action

Unemployment has long been a symptom of the recession which began taking hold 2008.  The recover witnessed in Urban areas does not appear to be making its way into rural Ireland.  Reports suggest that shrinkage town centre business has at its route decreased local consumption evident in the lower rates of footfall.  I would suggest that these feet may belong to feet of people impacted by the high unemployment rates and realised as lower local consumption.  Keep in mind that local press are suggesting that as much as 20% of the county Tipperary population maybe unemployed job seekers seeking those one in one hundred full time jobs we spoke about earlier.


Imagine for a moment if 20% of the local population were to regain the disposable income capacity of full time employment.  its not so difficult to imagine the resulting business growth.  With this in mind, I could suggest unemployment is now a contributing factor to a failed recovery in county Tipperary.  Just as local consumers depend on the disposable incomes enabled by full time jobs, local businesses depend on local consumers to have disposable incomes to keep local businesses and their employees in full time jobs.


In My Next Post

20% of estimated local consumers are unemployed and possibility competing with 99 other job seekers for each job available.  Sustaining town centre businesses has been highlighted by a new plan proposed by Tipperary County Council.  The plan calls commercial and social shared interests to ‘Collaborate To Innovate’ greater local consumer growth.  Failure to rally and answer this call to action could possibly lead to a greater challenge to ‘Innovate Or Die’.  This symbiotic relationship also factors in our second problem which will be the topic of my next post.

In the mean time …


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Here’s your lean innovative thought challenge!

Its a question … but its also a call to action and now its your innovative lean thinking challenge.  In this post we explored unemployment as a cause or symptom of a failing recovery in county Tipperary.   We did not however address a key question of “How To Create Jobs In Rural Ireland?”.  Using the sample data above as our measure success its time to ideate.  You are challenged to offer possible ideas, concepts or solutions which could realistically meet the needs of job seekers in county Tipperary.  This may appear to be a biblical problem but we’re not looking for miracles.  We are however looking for frugal commercial and socially acceptable practical and realistic ideas.  Please post your comments below.  Until my next post …

Here’s the second of three thought challenging posts in this three part series called:

Big Ideas For Small Towns

(Problem 2: Big Ideas For Small Towns)

Lets Innovate!






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