IDA work curtailed by ban on hiring its own staff
THE state agency central to job creation and economic recovery is struggling to cope with its workload after losing 12pc of its workforce in a year.
The IDA is locked in a battle with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation after demanding a lower cap on staffing levels to prevent them plummeting further.
It admitted it is "stretched" as it tries to reach the Government's ambitious target to create 105,000 jobs over the next four years by luring foreign direct investment.
Key vacancies remain unfilled for months due to the blanket ban on recruitment across the public sector that is designed to reduce the crippling state payroll, despite the opening of several new foreign IDA offices.
Sources said there are currently 252 employees at the agency, which had 295 12 months ago, due to the departure of staff whose temporary contracts were not renewed, retired, or took up incentivised exit schemes.
It has also emerged that the body that promotes domestic business, Enterprise Ireland, will lose over 40 staff at its overseas offices that have fixed-term contracts over the next two years.
Neither body has been offered an exemption from the recruitment ban, despite exemptions being granted to other state services.
The IDA said it is "stretched" due to a lack of staff and resources and confirmed that discussions are under way with the Department of Enterprise on the issue. "Whether we can achieve our objectives remains to be seen," said a spokesperson.
Sources said management has asked the department for a cap on staffing as close to its level a year ago as possible because currently some staff are being expected to be in "two places at one time".
A total of 10pc of administrative staff were relocated into frontline services over two years ago, but the moratorium on recruitment has put further pressure on staffing levels. The workload has also grown due to the opening of new overseas offices, including southern California, Brazil, and China.
The IDA's work is at the core of the government's plan to rebuild the economy through export growth.
The public sector moratorium prohibits the filling of public service posts by recruitment, promotion or the payment of allowances to workers in lower grades.
IDA targets in its 'Horizon 2020' plan include the creation of 105,000 new jobs before 2014, with 640 new foreign direct investments, half of these to be located outside Dublin and Cork.