THE contrasting fortunes of the multi-national sector and the rest of the economy were highlighted yesterday as the IDA said the net number of jobs created by IDA-supported companies was the highest in more than a decade.
The agency tasked with luring foreign companies to Ireland said companies it supports had taken on more than 13,000 people in 2011, or 20pc more than 2010.
Layoffs among IDA-supported companies also fell to a decade-low with 6,950 jobs, which means that IDA-supported companies created a net 6,100 jobs last year. In 2010, the companies lost 1,400 jobs.
IDA-supported companies are vital to the economy.
They accounted for 70pc of our exports last year and Forfas estimates they injected €19bn into the rest of the local economy.
The 146,000 people working for IDA companies also earned €6.9bn while those companies paid around 70pc of the €3.8bn corporation tax paid by Irish-based companies last year.
"It was a relatively good outcome for 2011 on the back of quite good results for 2010," said IDA chairman Liam O'Mahony.
IDA companies need employees in the technology sector as well as people who have studied marketing together with languages, the agency said.
Parents should steer their children into these sectors rather than the lucrative professions, chief executive Barry O'Leary added.
"Mammies and daddies of Ireland need to move away from the notion that future secure employment is in the traditional professions such as medicine, law and teaching," he quoted Higher Education Authority chairman John Hennessy as saying.
Some 61 companies invested in Ireland for the first time last year such as computer games company Zynga which created 55 jobs, Quest Software which added 150 jobs and software company HCL, which added 80 jobs.
The number of companies investing here for the first time rose 30pc to the highest ever.
Household names such as Twitter, Intel, IBM, Coca-Cola, LinkedIn and PayPal all added jobs to existing operations.
Computer giant Intel is spending $500m (€390m) on a new factory in Kildare, while Coca-Cola opened a $300m plant in Wexford and contact lens maker Bausch and Lomb spent $100m in Waterford.
Mr O'Leary said he expects IDA-supported companies to create a similar number of jobs this year and hinted that several large announcements in the life sciences sector were likely in the months ahead.
"The immediate outlook for Ireland's foreign direct investment portfolio is positive, with a strong short-term pipeline in place," he added.
The eurozone crisis is worrying some US investors but no company had expressed fears that Ireland would be forced to leave the euro, he added.
Ireland remains an attractive place for multinationals, the IDA said, citing research published in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook which rates the country highly for corporate taxes, business legislation, skilled labour and inflation.
The country's access to the European job market means that employers find it easy to fill positions even if they struggle to find Irish nationals with the right skills.