IDA plans to build on a record year for job creation

 

IDA Ireland expects to help create in excess of 14,000 new jobs this year, its chief executive Mr Kieran McGowan said yesterday. The agency has just reported another record year for job creation - IDA-assisted foreign-owned companies created 13,180 new jobs last year.

The net increase in employment in companies supported by the agency last year was 7,380, when the loss of 5,800 jobs is taken into account. Forfas figures show that, when job creation in indigenous industry is added, total net employment in State-assisted industry rose by over 12,000 last year.

Mr McGowan told The Irish Times this year's job creation performance by companies assisted by his agency should be even better.

"The number of actual job commitments for this year, is higher than last year," he said, "and big projects such as IBM (which is creating 2,850 jobs over the next five years) will begin to come onstream.

Overall, the number of new jobs created in 1997 should increase by 10-15 per cent on last year, he said. Companies the IDA would continue to target included those engaged in electronics (including software), financial services teleservices and healthcare.

Mr McGowan said the net employment gains for 1997 should also increase, as the agency is also hoping to reduce overall job losses this year. Last year, a small number of companies accounted for a substantial share of the job losses. These included 450 job losses at Keytronic in Dundalk, Co Louth, and the closures of the Semperit Tyre factory in Dublin (690 jobs) and Tambrands in Co Tipperary, which made personal healthcare products.

IDA Ireland hopes to replace Tambrands with another healthcare company, by the end of the first quarter of the year. However, it is still seeking a replacement industry for Semperit in Dublin. Two tyre manufacturers, including Cooper Tyres in the US, are no longer interested in the Dublin plant and its future looks bleak.

Mr McGowan said IDA Ireland was talking to several businesses including Irish operators, with a view to them taking over the Semperit factory and site.

IDA Ireland has also become a market leader for US companies undertaking greenfield investment in Europe. Mr McGowan said 30 per cent of all such projects now come to Ireland, up from 23 per cent in 1995.

He said it was "an indicator of the very strong competitive position of the economy and endorsed the merits of the focused and aggressive marketing approach adopted by IDA Ireland in recent years

Last year was also a record year for IDA Ireland in winning new investment projects in manufacturing and services. A total of 207 projects were negotiated during the year, with 84 being in the IFSC. In fact 900 jobs were created in the IFSC, bringing employment there to nearly 3,500.

Looking at the various sectors, the electronics and information technology sectors are the most successful areas for job creation, followed by financial services and tele-services. Together they account for almost 80 per cent of new job creation.

Healthcare/pharmaceuticals also continued to perform strongly, creating more than 2,500 jobs.

Large scale projects announced last year included Citibank, Hertz, Eastman Kodak, Gateway 2000 and Hewlett-Packard. It is these projects which will essentially be the main job creators over the next few years, according to Mr McCowan.

Most regions recorded a net increase in employment in IDA companies. The strongest gains were in Dublin, Kildare, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Tipperary, Roscommon, Sligo and Wexford. Louth was hit by some closures - including Keytronic - but Mr McGowan said, with a number of projects at the start-up stage, the negative results of 1996 would be balanced out this year.