Employment has increased significantly in more multinationals (43pc) based in Ireland than it has fallen (16pc) this year, a new IMI/Danske Bank survey reveals. Some 35pc expect employment to increase.
The study of foreign direct investment (FDI) firms – involving close to 400 chief executives and senior managers – found that 70pc of Irish-based firms characterise their operation as the strategic centre of their global organisation.
Some 43pc of firms expect turnover to increase, and 57pc of multinationals in Ireland specified some difficulty in finding the right skills, particularly in engineering, software, languages and technical skills.
There is increased confidence in Ireland’s long-term economic stability, with 69pc of respondents viewing it as moderate and 16pc viewing it as strong.
More than half of the multinationals surveyed buy essential product-related supplies from local SMEs while almost half engage professional services and third-party vendors from local SMEs.
Optimistic about growth
“A key finding in the survey is that multinationals are quite optimistic about growth prospects for the coming year, with one-third of firms expecting employment levels to increase,” said IDA Ireland CEO Barry O’Leary.
“A key objective of IDA’s strategy Horizon 2020 is to work with multinational companies to help future-proof their businesses. A major part of future-proofing any business is through transformation, including having strong research, development and innovation (RD&I) programmes in place.
“It is also encouraging to note that in over half of the foreign-owned firms surveyed, the Irish operation is a strategic centre for their international business. This includes two-thirds of all US-owned firms. Strategically important operations tend to embed themselves in the local economy, providing well-paid and sustainable employment,” O’Leary added.
More than half of multinationals in Ireland confirmed that their cost base in Ireland was rising this year, while one-third stated it remained unchanged.
“A highly skilled workforce is essential to attract and retain higher value-added activities,” said Dr Simon Boucher, chief executive of the Irish Management Institute.
“With 57pc of firms specifying some difficulty finding the right skills, according to this survey, there is a clear need for practical action to close the gap between the worlds of education and work.
“The Government is undoubtedly making progress in tackling the mismatch between education and the labour market through initiatives such as reform of the maths syllabus and the Action Plan for Jobs, but I strongly believe Irish educational institutions can work more directly with industry to significantly develop workforce capability and ultimately company performance.”