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Skilled Irish workforce a key differentiator in attracting FDI, says EY report

27 Jun 2023

Ireland has the highest number of STEM grads per capita in the 20-29 age bracket in the EU. It has 40 per 1,000 people compared to the EU average of 21.

A new report by EY has found that although Ireland punches well above its weight when it comes to foreign direct investment (FDI), careful planning and attention to talent, tech skills and sustainability is needed to continue this progress.

More than half (58pc) of global investors surveyed by EY said they see the availability of tech skills in Ireland as being better than in other countries. In addition, 50pc said Ireland’s network of technology start-ups and research institutions is stronger than in other locations.

Ireland’s access to the single market, its English-speaking skilled workforce and its location between the US, the UK and continental Europe were all singled out as reasons foreign investors find it lucrative.

Ireland has the highest number of STEM graduates per capita in the 20-29 age bracket in the EU. It has 40 graduates per 1,000 people compared to the EU average of 21.

Ireland is particularly successful in attracting FDI from the US. Across Europe, 21pc of FDI projects are from the US, but this rises to 59pc for Ireland.

Of all the FDI companies that are here, 71pc said they plan to increase their investment in Ireland in the coming year. Almost half (46pc) said they expected Ireland’s attractiveness for FDI to increase over the next three years. Overall, less than one-fifth (18pc) predicted it would decrease.

These stats come from the EY Europe Attractiveness Survey 2023. There were 153 respondents for the Irish survey, which was conducted online in February and March of this year.

Commenting on the findings, Feargal de Freine, EY Ireland assurance partner and head of FDI said: “Relative to our population, Ireland commands an outsize share of foreign direct investment into Europe. FDI project numbers are growing strongly and senior executives in the organisations investing or considering investing anticipate a further improvement in the country’s attractiveness over the next three years.”

He added that this success was “built on decades of hard work in developing the right policy framework across a range of areas”.

“By sustaining successful investments in high-value sectors over many years, we have developed a credible track record, a deep talent pool and ecosystems that foster innovation.”

But he also said that Ireland needs to maintain its progress and keep spending on emerging tech and talent in order to remain competitive. “With competition for investment intensifying globally, Ireland needs to ensure that it maintains and strengthens its attractiveness for FDI. Key to this will be three areas of focus: talent, technology and sustainability.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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