IDA firms post job growth for first time since 2006
Improved competitiveness and falling cost of office rents key drivers of employment creation
IDA-sponsored companies returned to net job growth last year for the first time since 2006 as improved competitiveness helped secure new investments here.
Businesses that have partnered with the agency added 10,897 jobs in 2010 and shed 9,545, giving a net positive figure of 1,352 jobs created in 2010, the IDA said yesterday.
That was the first time in three years that more jobs have been created than lost in sponsored firms. Last year some 15,500 jobs more jobs were lost than added.
In their end of year statement, the IDA cited "significant" improvements in competitiveness here as a key driver of job creation.
Office rents have fallen by up to 40pc while the forecast labour costs are expected to improve by up to 13pc between 2008 and 2012 relative to the rest of the EU.
The cost of living has also fallen, with gas and electricity prices now below the EU average. The 12.5pc corporation tax remains key to foreign investment here, with IDA clients contributing over 60pc of all corporation tax in the state.
"Continuing to focus on improving competitiveness is essential," the report adds.
IDA secured some 126 investments last year, with 47 companies investing in Ireland for the first time -- an increase of 20pc on last year. More than €500m was invested in research and development. IDA clients now account for 75pc of Irish exports.
Despite the increases in investment here, IDA chief executive Barry O'Leary admitted that job creation remained the key factor in the IDA's success.
"We can win a lot of investment but we have to create jobs as well so labour intensive investment is key. As a result of that, we had set a target of 122 investments this year but have upped that to 134 now."
IDA is targeting 10,000 new jobs in 2011 -- lower than last year's figure -- but that is tied into the agency's plan to create 105,000 new jobs between 2010 and 2014.
"We will have up years and down years, but the overall target remains the same," said Mr O'Leary.
The outlook in 2011 remains "challenging" for attracting foreign investment but Ireland's improving competitiveness can create favourable conditions for further investment here.
The country's difficulties are well known and Mr O'Leary admitted Ireland's reputational damage had made doing business "more complex".
"Every company does a risk analysis and clearly when people read the media around the world, they see report of a crisis here and so on.
"It means we have to explain a lot more to investors about what's happening in the country. We can't underplay the banking and fiscal crisis but we have to emphasise what Ireland can do for potential investors."