Enterprise Ireland reports 20-year workforce high

Enterprise Ireland firms now employ 221,895 people – the highest total employment in the 20-year history of the agency.

Around 65pc of total employment by Enterprise Ireland backed companies is now outside of Dublin, according to the agency’s end-of-year statement.

Cleantech jobs grew by 9pc, life sciences jobs by 6pc, fintech by 6pc, electronics by 5pc, ICT and international services by 4pc, while jobs in the food sector grew by 1pc, reflecting the uncertainty created by Brexit in 2019.

“We cannot reach our full potential as a country without successful regions”

The jobs growth translates into a net increase of 4,706 jobs created in 2019.

“These record results are a great achievement and a testament to the resilience of Irish companies in the context of Brexit,” said Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys, TD.

“Nevertheless, we cannot become complacent about the hard-won gains of recent years. We have made huge progress but today we have new challenges and we need to constantly evolve to remain competitive.”

Look to the regions

Commenting on the regional spread of the jobs, Humphreys added: “This strong regional performance is important because we cannot reach our full potential as a country without successful regions. It is for this reason that I have prioritised supporting regional enterprise as Minister and will continue to do so in 2020. Initiatives like the Regional Enterprise Development Fund and the Regional Enterprise Plans are making a real difference on the ground and I would urge businesses to take full advantage of them.”

Enterprise Ireland said that it continues to work on a one-to-one basis with its exporting clients on Brexit planning. In 2018 and 2019, the agency approved funding of €125m to its most Brexit-exposed clients.

“Preparing for Brexit has been a major part of our work in recent years and today’s results provide evidence that many companies are making the strategic decision to explore new markets, with success,” said Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland.

“Our results show that two thirds of our Brexit-exposed companies have decreased their reliance on the UK, with 442 new overseas presences established by client companies with the support of Enterprise Ireland. This includes over 99 new market presences into the Eurozone in 2019, which is a key focus of our strategy.

“With Brexit now becoming a reality from the end of January, the major issue that exporters will face in the future is how our trading relationship with the UK will change from 2021 onwards. Enterprise Ireland will continue to work with companies looking to step into new markets as part of their diversification strategies. In 2019, 1,554 new overseas contracts were secured by Enterprise Ireland client companies and we will look to build on this success in 2020.”

2020 Action Plan for Women

Enterprise Ireland’s 2020 Action Plan for Women in Business was also published as part of Future Jobs Ireland, the whole-of-Government framework to prepare our businesses and workers for the future. The purpose of the plan is to increase levels of women-led businesses and women in strategic management positions to improve diversity.

The plan, which is one of several steps being taken in the area under Future Jobs Ireland, outlines four objectives with 24 key actions to support the development of women leaders and managers. Actions include:

  • Offer increased one-to-one engagement to support women-led companies to effectively support growth ambitions and expansion into new global markets;
  • Introduce a new grant for Enterprise Ireland supported companies to facilitate the recruitment of part time senior managers;
  • Develop, support and promote a national network of role models to interact with and inspire future entrepreneurs; and,
  • Issue a series of funding calls targeting women entrepreneurs and women researchers from third level institutions.

“Ireland’s economic success will be driven by optimising all our skills and talent through increasing the participation of women in entrepreneurship and business leadership,” said Sinnamon.

“This new plan aims to address a broad range of factors contributing to the under-representation of women in enterprise. We will achieve this by working in collaboration with others across the public and private sector to bring about lasting sustainable improvement that will narrow the participation gap between women and men and deliver increased economic growth.”

Main image at top: Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 7 January, 2020