CITY councillors have approved a scheme which it is hoped will lead to higher local employment in regeneration building contracts.
At present, many contractors working on building new homes in the estates have brought their own staff from outside Limerick.
But in a bid to address this, Limerick City Council is to implement a policy to “promote opportunities for vocational training, education and employment for young persons and the long term unemployed”.
The strategy, presented to members, will see the council seek to put clauses in building contracts encouraging the employment of local unemployed people.
It is hoped contractors will eventually be bound by law to employ at least 25% of locals from the estates - although city manager Conn Murray warned that the council is still at a “learning curve”.
“It has not been tested before. Once we have planning in place, we can put clauses in contracts to seek to ensure a social benefit can be delivered,” he explained.
But members have warmly welcomed the strategy, including Cllr Maurice Quinlivan who has met with officials in Glasgow to see a similar project work.
Having presented his findings to former regeneration boss Brendan Kenny as far back as 2010, he said the strategy is “long overdue”.
“The provision of a social benefit clause is allowed for in European law, and it is up to each individual local authority to include a clause if they wish,” he explained.
Cllr Tom Shortt said the non-employment of local workers is a “running sore”. He said any contractor should be happy to include a social clause in contracts.
“These are keenly fought over by contractors, and they will go lengths to get these. We need to show them social responsibility is important, and not just a need to line their own pockets,” he said. Cllr Diarmuid Scully warned that only training youngsters to be in construction may be “sending them down a blind alley”. “In all projects, there are jobs such as accounting,” he stressed.