Updated Government strategy targets 5,000 new finance jobs as employment rises

Financial services sector’s green and digital transition are ‘great opportunities for Ireland’s economy’, says Seán Fleming

The Government is targeting an additional 5,000 Irish jobs within the international financial services sector by 2026, a revised figure that reflects a sharp increase in employment within the industry in recent years.

On Monday, Seán Fleming, Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for financial services, published the Government’s updated Ireland for Finance strategy.

Unveiled in 2019 and slated to run until 2025, the plan was aimed at growing the number of people employed in the sector from 44,000 to 50,000 by 2020. But, according to IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland figures, there were 52,800 working in financial services in Ireland in 2021, one-third of whom were based outside Dublin.

With employment levels within the sector having reached “their highest level ever” last year, the new target for employment growth “over the life of the updated strategy from 2023 to 2026 inclusive is 5,000 net new jobs”, the revised strategy document outlines.

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The five core “themes for growth” around which the strategy is built are: sustainable finance; fintech and digital finance; diversity and talent; regionalisation and promotion; and enhancing the operating environment.

Among other things, the strategy recognises that “disruptive technologies such as blockchain are creating new opportunities for digital assets that will shape the future of the global financial system”. It notes that “action” will be required within the crypto-asset and blockchain space to “maximise the opportunities and manage the risks that these shifts in technology will bring to the sector”.

To this end, the Department of Finance’s Fintech Steering Group — membership of which was expanded this year to include senior officials from other Government departments and from the enterprise agencies — will “provide the strategic leadership” to capitalise on developments in the crypto and digital asset industry.

Commenting on the update, Mr Fleming said that sustainable and digital transitions feature prominently within the strategy as “great opportunities for Ireland’s economy”.

He said: “Partnership between the private and public sector is at the heart of this strategy. It is key to ensuring Ireland has the right education mix to meet the demands of industry in the future. Our job targets are ambitious but can be met by everyone working together.”

In his introduction to the update, he said that while there have been successes in recent years, “we cannot be complacent and assume future success”.

The Fianna Fáil TD for Laois-Offaly said that one “immediate priority” is to “deepen engagement” with the fintech industry to “establish working groups with stakeholders and third-level researchers and experts”.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times