Monday 22 January 2018

Job agency finally gets go-ahead to hire 10 new staff

Anne-Marie Walsh and Ralph Riegel

A major state job creation agency has won back just a fraction of the 50 staff it lost over the past two years.

One year after the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) first asked the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation for an urgent staff boost, the department has finally approved 10 extra workers.

Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe announced yesterday he had agreed to increase the IDA's workforce from 258 to 268 after the Irish Independent revealed he had still not made a decision. It is understood this was the minimum level the IDA told the department it needed to cope with its drastically increased workload.

A letter -- obtained under the Freedom of Information Act -- from IDA chairman Liam O'Mahony to the minister last May revealed the agency could not meet its targets, which included its Horizon 2020 plan to create 105,000 new jobs by 2014, with just 258 staff.

Written on behalf of the IDA board, Mr O'Mahony warned that foreign direct investment would be lost because staff cuts at the IDA were greater than those at other public bodies.

In a statement, the department said the number of staff IDA Ireland considered necessary to meet its job creation targets this year was 268.

"The minister has approved that number," it said. It said the issue was dealt with in the context of government policy to reduce public service numbers to stabilise the public finances.

"However, the minister has prioritised job creation in allocating the available numbers," it said. The IDA said it was "satisfied" its agreement with the department along with an "internal business process transformation initiative" positioned it to implement its Horizon 2020 strategy and targets in the next four years.

Speaking yesterday, Mr O'Keeffe said he had sanctioned extra staff for the other key job creation agency, Enterprise Ireland, as well.


"Obviously, you know, staffing levels for the IDA and Enterprise Ireland are an extremely important issue -- it is my job as minister to ensure that they have sufficient staff to meet the targets that they set themselves," he said.

"Both units have set themselves very high targets -- I got a letter from Liam O'Mahony (IDA chairman) in June outlining the fact that there were significant cuts last year and any further cuts were going to impact massively on their ability to meet those targets," he said.

"Now, obviously, I am in a position to send out the numbers that will be available to each of the agencies today. I indicated on Sunday that I would do it this week -- we have finalised those numbers just yesterday afternoon."

A spokesperson for Enterprise Ireland said it had been given a 'target' headcount for next year.

Irish Independent

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