Business Irish

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Jobs at Enterprise Ireland-backed firms grow by 4,700 to new high despite Brexit jitters

Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon. Photo: Arthur Carron
Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon. Photo: Arthur Carron

Shawn Pogatchnik

Nearly 222,000 people are employed at Enterprise Ireland-backed firms, a net gain of 4,700 jobs from a year ago and a record high.

Enterprise Ireland, which launched its end of year statement today, said nearly two-thirds of the jobs are located outside Dublin.

The business development agency reported strongest growth in employment at cleantech firms, up 9pc from a year ago.

Jobs were 6pc higher at EI-backed life sciences and fintech firms, and 5pc at electronics firms.

But Enterprise Ireland said employment at its food sector clients was only 1pc higher, with feared Brexit disruption of Irish food exports to the UK cited as a key reason why.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys said Brexit, sluggish eurozone growth and US-China trade tensions all were “creating challenges for Ireland as a small, open economy.

Against this backdrop, we need to focus on what we can control domestically, and be the masters of our own destiny. … We need to constantly evolve to remain competitive.”

Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon said the agency was close to reaching its four-year goal of spurring 60,000 new jobs by 2020.

She said client firms had created 57,881 jobs in the 2017-19 period, though this was partially offset by job losses elsewhere in EI-sponsored firms.

“We are seeing a moderation in the pace of job growth reflecting the impact of Brexit uncertainty, as well as wider skills and talent recruitment and competitiveness challenges for SMEs,” Ms Sinnamon said.

“To ensure that our companies continue to grow and create jobs, we need to see an increase in investment in innovation. Our research shows that companies that invest in research and innovation generate 67pc more in global sales than those that don’t.”

She said two-thirds of the agency’s Brexit-exposed client companies “have reduced their dependency on the UK”, in part by opening 442 new EI-sponsored sales and marketing points overseas and striking 1,554 new foreign contracts in the past year.

Enterprise Ireland today also published its 2020 Action Plan for Women in Business, which seeks to boost the number of women who lead companies and hold strategic management posts.

“Ireland will never reach its full potential without increasing the participation of women in entrepreneurship and business leadership,” Minister Humphreys said.

“Increasing gender diversity is the right thing to do, but it also makes sense because the research tells us that it leads to better decision-making, improved productivity and increased profitability.”

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