Regions lynchpin of future strategy as IDA targets 50k jobs

New regionally-focused strategy will see IDA Ireland target 50,000 new jobs over the next four years.

Despite a year of unprecedented challenges caused by the Covid-19 crisis, IDA Ireland has reported a net increase of nearly 9,000 FDI (foreign direct investment) jobs out of 20,000 overall new jobs generated in 2020.

In its annual results for 2020, the State agency reported 128 investments, of which 52pc were outside of Dublin.

“FDI was central to Ireland’s recovery during the last recession and it will be crucial again as we rebuild after the pandemic”

In its new four-year strategy, IDA Ireland’s CEO Martin Shanahan said that there will be a continued focus on regional development.

Of the 246 investment landed by IDA Ireland in 2020, 95 of these were new name investments.

The total number of people directly employed in the multinational sector grew in Ireland to 257,394 jobs, accounting directly for 12.4pc of national employment and up from 10.7pc in 2019. An estimated eight jobs were created in the wider economy for every 10 created by FDI companies, bringing total direct and indirect employment to 463,309.

Resilience of Irish FDI sector

Man in navy suit sitting at table.

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan

“To compete for and win investments, regions must have the strongest possible value proposition”

Shanahan said that the existing base of FDI firms have shown continued resilience but pointed out that there were higher jobs losses in some sectors.

The new four-year strategy entitled Driving Recovery & Sustainable Growth 2021 – 2024 will put regions at the heart of the plan alongside growth, transformation, sustainability and impact.

The plan is targeting 800 new investments and 50,000 new jobs over four years.

To bolster this, IDA Ireland will deliver 19 new advanced building solutions (ABS) to regional locations.

“In the context of the Covid-19 global pandemic, FDI’s performance is remarkable. It is encouraging that Ireland has been able to secure such a significant number (246) of investments and grow employment in 2020, a year of unprecedented disruption to global business and adverse impact on global economies,” Shanahan said.

“246 investments in 2020 compares to 250 investments in the same period last year – an excellent outcome, achieved through a focus on our existing client base and on stronger than anticipated new name performance. Job losses were slightly up on recent years at 4.5pc.

“Sectors such as life sciences and technology were much less affected and, in a number of cases, increased operations in response to demand for Covid-related products, mitigating job losses in other sectors. At the end of the year, 52pc of employees in IDA Ireland client companies remained working from home, compared to 28pc nationally.”

Regional focus

However, he warned competition for global investment is growing and has never been as intense.

“To compete for and win investments, regions must have the strongest possible value proposition. This will require regional and national stakeholders working in collaboration to create the conditions that meet and exceed the needs of international investors.”

IDA Ireland’s Head of Regional Business Development, Anne-Marie Tierney-Le Roux said: “47pc of IDA Ireland’s client base, 755 clients, are located in the regions, employing 144,689 people, which is 56% of overall FDI employment.

“Our focus on regions continues to pay off and it is most encouraging that investment continued at this level into the regions in 2020, despite the upheaval caused by the global pandemic. Our focus on regions will continue in our new strategy – our objective is to win half of the 800 target investments for regional locations.”

To underscore this IDA Ireland will  invest in significant infrastructure projects across itsportfolio of Business and Technology Parks to upgrade and maintain these key assets in line with the evolving requirements of IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland client companies.

“The availability of competitive property solutions is a key contributor to winning mobile FDI,” explained Denis Curran, IDA’s divisional head of Regional Development and Property. “The planned building solutions have a geographical spread in line with the National Planning Framework reflecting our strategic focus on regional development. We will also continue to work with regional stakeholders and the private sector to market property solutions to international investors.”

The IDA’s performance in the face of the Covid-19 crisis was welcomed by Tánaiste & Minister for Enterprise Trade & Employment Leo Varadkar, TD. “Despite a year of unprecedented challenges to our economy, these results show that foreign direct investment has been remarkably resilient. We still saw a net increase in FDI jobs of nearly 9,000 in 2020. This is a testament to the attractiveness of Ireland as a destination for companies seeking to invest.

“FDI was central to Ireland’s recovery during the last recession and it will be crucial again as we rebuild after the pandemic. As a small open economy, we need both our indigenous and FDI sectors to be strong and built on solid foundations. Around half of all investment made by FDI companies this year went to counties outside of Dublin. We will continue to seek out opportunities for all parts of the country, not just our major cities and towns.

“The new IDA Strategy being published today was written in the context of continuing uncertainty with the virus and Brexit. It prioritises growing the regional enterprise base, driving productivity, building a sustainable enterprise base and increasing the spill-over effects from FDI to SMEs. We will continue to keep progress and plans under review over the months and years ahead and adapt to support Ireland’s recovery,” Varadkar said.

Main image: The Jaguar Land Rover software engineering centre in Shannon, Co Clare.

By John Kennedy (

Published: 7 January 2021