Net new jobs created by Enterprise Ireland firms halved in 2019 to 4,700

Record 221, 895 people work in companies backed by the State agency

Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon said that while she expected an increase in jobs created again this year, growth was slowing. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon said that while she expected an increase in jobs created again this year, growth was slowing. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The number of net jobs created by Enterprise Ireland-backed companies almost halved last year with little to no growth in the all-important food sector due to uncertainty over Brexit, new figures show.

Presenting its annual figures on Tuesday, the State agency said a record 16,971 new jobs were created by client companies in 2019. However, over the same period some 12,265 jobs were lost, leaving a net gain of 4,706 new roles. This marks a 48 per cent decline on the previous year when 9,118 net new jobs were created.

Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon said that growth in the food sector, in which about 60,000 people are employed, was flat, largely due to the impact of Brexit on the sector.

There are now 221,895 people working in companies supported by Enterprise Ireland, the highest ever level. Of these, some 63,521 people are working in food-related businesses.

Of the nearly 17,000 new jobs created last year, two-thirds were outside of Dublin. Ms Sinnamon said that some 65 per cent of all client company roles were located in the regions. Last year there was increased growth in job numbers in all regions bar the midlands, which has been impacted by losses at Bord Na Móna.

Enterprise Ireland said 57,881 roles have been created by companies it backs over the past three years, putting the agency ahead of its 60,000 target for the end of 2020.

Job growth slowing

Ms Sinnamon said that while she expected an increase in jobs created again this year, growth was slowing because of Brexit and the difficulties in finding staff in an economy that is at full tilt.

“From an overall strong performance we are seeing that there are sectors that are being particularly impacted,” she said.

Ms Sinnamon said the agency had approved funding of €125 million for Brexit-exposed companies over the past two years and was continuing to work with clients on a one-to-one basis on preparing for the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Two-thirds of the agency’s 2,000 Brexit-exposed clients have reduced their exposure to the British market by focusing activities in the euro zone, North America and Asia Pacific.

A breakdown of jobs created last year show there was a 9 per cent rise in roles in the cleantech sector and a 6 per cent increase in life sciences and fintech jobs. There was also a 5 per cent jump in jobs created by businesses operating in the electronics sector, while the ICT and international services industries saw a 4 per cent rise in new roles.

Ms Sinnamon said the average cost to the agency in creating and sustaining a job was about €3,400.

The agency said it supported 126 new start-ups with funding in 2019, including 38 women-led companies.

Enterprise Ireland on Tuesday announced a new action plan for women in business to help increase the level of businesses in which women either lead or play key roles. The initiative provides grants and training to support businesses.