Insurance industry gets a boost as 200 jobs created
THE ailing insurance industry was given a shot in the arm with the announcement of 200 high-end jobs yesterday.
Insurance giant AXA will fill its new Dublin vacancies over the next three years.
A small number of people have already been recruited, with around 100 new workers being hired by the end of this year.
The jobs will be created in marketing, finance, information technology and customer services.
The announcement comes a month after it was revealed Quinn Insurance would have to shed around 900 jobs as part of a large-scale restructuring programme being implemented by administrators.
And it comes just a week after the long-term prospects of another 900 insurance workers were thrown into doubt when the Government announced plans to privatise the VHI.
The new jobs will focus on AXA's investment products and will provide back-office services for the wider company, mostly for AXA Life Europe.
AXA chose Dublin because of the skilled workforce, particularly highly educated graduates able to speak several languages, the presence of the International Financial Services Centre and the pro-business environment. Access to EU markets was also a key factor.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the announcement showed Ireland was bidding again for high-end graduate jobs.
"This is about the country competing again, it's about companies of international stature like AXA who are interested in coming here and setting up their pan-European headquarters," Mr Cowen said.
AXA took over PMPA in 1999 and Mr Cowen said Irish management at the company had successfully built up the business since the "difficult times" when PMPA went into administration. "This company has built up over 1,200 full-time employees.
"It's a question of steady growth, building businesses, using Ireland as an international base and this is a quite significant strategic investment by AXA," he added.
He also said the jobs announcement was another illustration that the economy had turned a corner and the worst of the recession had passed.
But the Taoiseach said confidence was critical to growing exports and consumer spending.
"We're hoping to get into the growth phase in the economy. Some people are saying we're there already, if not certainly for the third quarter.
"Employment creation we certainly expect in 2011 plus 2012.
"We've got to now see how we can move forward and push forward with promoting Ireland as a good location for these sort of investments and obviously improving the difficult environment at home for small and medium size enterprises as well," he said.