New IDA strategy to target more regional jobs

Agency reports that employment in Irish- based multinationals reaches record high

IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan is “cautiously optimistic” going into 2015. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan is “cautiously optimistic” going into 2015. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

IDA Ireland, the State agency responsible for attracting inward investment, said it will publish a new five-year strategy in coming weeks that will pay “significant attention” to the issue of how to convince multinationals to invest outside the main cities of Dublin and Cork.

At an IDA presentation on Tuesday of its review of 2014, Martin Shanahan, the agency’s chief executive, said the previous five-year strategy, which expired in December, targeted 50 per cent of new investments in regional areas.

Of the 770 investments by IDA client companies over the five years, however, just over 30 per cent were made outside the main cities. “It was an ambitious target, but we are trying to buck the trend,” said Mr Shanahan.

Overall employment in Irish based multinationals reached a record 174,488 during 2014, as the IDA secured a 20 per cent boost in new investments leading to the creation of more than 15,000 jobs. However, job losses incurred during the year increased by 25 per cent, up to 7,881, and the agency warned that a poor growth outlook in Europe will remain a challenge into 2015.

IDA reported a 20 per cent increase in investments up to 197 in 2014. Of these, some 88 were first time investors in Ireland, a 13 per cent increase on 2013.

Among the leading investments secured during the year were Amazon, Bristol Myers Squibb, Fidelity, LinkedIn, Ericsson and New Relic.

The IDA also pointed to regional investments won during the year, including announcements from Jazz Pharmaceuticals in Co Roscommon, Beckton Dickinson in Drogheda and ClearStream Technologies in Enniscorthy. Some 37 per cent of investments were outside Dublin and Cork in 2014, up from 30 per cent on 2013.

Overall, some 15,012 jobs were created by IDA client companies in 2014, but when job losses are taken into consideration, the net increase in employment was 7,131. This was nonentheless one of the highest net levels of job creation in a decade.

There were job gains across most sectors the IDA is focused on, but particularly in digital media/content, ICT, international financial services, life sciences and business services.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said that multinational companies account for almost 10 per cent of the Irish workforce and are of “crucial strategic importance for the economy due to the quality of the jobs involved, their export focus and the massive knock-on impact they have on the wider economy”.

“The challenge now is to build on this performance and ensure that we create more jobs and more economic impact, as part of the drive to rebuild the economy and ensure that it is felt in people’s pockets - and I am confident that we can deliver on this in 2015 and beyond”.

Mr Shanahan said that 2014 was “a very successful year”.

“While the direct jobs created are of course welcome, we are seeing noticeable gains for the wider domestic economy from the investments made by overseas companies we work with,” he said.

Outlook

Looking to 2015, Mr Shanahan said he was “optimistic” about the future flow of investment.

“We are cautiously optimistic Ireland is in a good position to win significant business across a range of sectors,” he said, but noted that all business is hard-won and “we need to be vigilant and avoid complacency, particularly in the area of cost competitiveness”.

“The mistakes of the past must not be repeated. A poor growth outlook for Europe will also be a challenge. Finally, the importance of the education and training sector providing a supply of talented graduates cannot be overstated.”

The IDA is currently finalising a new five-year strategy to replace Horizon 2020 and to take the organisation into “a new phase of development”.