Multimedia sector offers job growth prospects

 

The Irish multimedia industry could employ 9,000 people by the year 2000, if the output of programmers and engineers is increased, cost competitive telecommunications are provided and there is improved access to sources of finance, a new report has said.

The industry has a minimum requirement for a further 650 technical staff, 575 creative staff and 525 management staff over the next three years, says the report, Multimedia Ireland - Realising the Potential.

It was prepared by the accountancy firm, Farrell Grant Sparks, and commissioned by Forbairt, IDA Ireland and Senior College Ballyfermot.

The report says the industry is maturing at a fast rate with more than 80 per cent of companies now reporting turnovers above £250,000.

The rise in turnover of the indigenous companies is linked to the development of export markets, says the report.

In 1993, only 42 per cent of companies were exporting, but by 1996 this had risen to almost 75 per cent.

The report says the cost of telecommunications is a barrier to growth and volume discount pricing would make it more attractive for multimedia companies to locate in Ireland.

It adds that the Government should ensure the national network is fully digitalised by the year 2000. Another issue stressed is access to distribution channels and international markets. "The industry should be helped to identify strategic alliances for distribution in all global markets," say the authors.

On the question of access to finance, the report says Forbairt should allocate a proportion of EU-backed venture capital funds for the high-risk product development stages of multimedia companies.

The report says the skill base in the industry is already under pressure, with programmers, engineers and technically-literate sales and marketing staff in "short supply" and salary levels rising.

Speaking at the launch of the report, the chief executive of the IDA, Mr Kieran McGowan, compared the position of the multimedia sector with that of software in the early 1990s. He called on the financial community to look seriously at investing in the sector.