Managing partner Michael McAteer says the Covid pandemic has created a two-tier economy here
Accountancy and professional services firm Grant Thornton is to create 1,000 jobs to bring its total workforce in Ireland to more than 2,800.
The new jobs will be created across Grant Thornton’s offices in Dublin, Cork, Longford, Limerick, Galway, Limerick, Kildare and Belfast.
The new roles will be across a range of disciplines, including audit, actuarial, corporate finance, insurance, financial services and digital transformation.
The firm announced last month that it was doubling the size of its tax advisory team to 340 people over four years, forming part of the 1,000 new jobs.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Grant Thornton Ireland managing partner Michael McAteer, said many of the firm’s clients, particularly in sectors such as financial services and technology, have been going “gangbusters”, particularly since last month.
But he said there’s effectively a two-tier economy operating in Ireland at the moment as the country tries to navigate its way out of the pandemic.
“At a helicopter level, there are two economies,” he said. “One has absolutely been completely unaffected by Covid.”
On the opposite side, he added, are businesses such as bricks and mortar domestic retail, restaurants, pubs and other such firms that have endured restrictions and more challenging conditions in many cases.
However, Mr McAteer said some restaurants are reporting that while the number of diners may be down, the spend is higher than before Covid.
“People’s own personal balance sheets are quite strong,” he said.
“If they’re going out for an evening, they’re going out for an event.”
The most recent forecast from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) is that the Irish economy will grow 12.6pc this year in terms of GDP, spurred by the impact of multinationals here.
Modified domestic demand, which is a more accurate measure of underlying economic activity, is expected to rise 7pc. The ESRI expects GDP to grow 7pc next year. The ESRI has cited housing among the challenges facing the economy.
Mr McAteer said both housing and labour shortages are hurdles that could impact growth in the medium term.
“I can’t see any other headwinds,” he said. “All that will happen, I think in relation to those issues of housing and people, is that they will dampen growth rather than stop it. We do have the time to try to start to solve those problems in 2022 and there’s enough fuel in the tank to see us through.”