IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan has said the Government’s National Broadband Plan will be a key enabler in regional jobs growth across Ireland, especially in relation to home-working opportunities.
Shanahan was speaking at the IDA’s half-year statement where it revealed that 9,000 new jobs were announced by IDA client companies in the first half of this year, up from 8,000 a year ago.
110 projects were confirmed by the IDA, up from 100 last year.
“We very much welcome the Government’s National Broadband Plan,” Shanahan said.
“Getting connectivity in regional areas will help to attract investments in those areas, but also in securing more home-working projects where people can work from home connected to international companies.”
It has long been understood that to qualify for jobs at Apple and Amazon, criteria includes minimum acceptable broadband speeds at home.
An example of the kind of regional job creation opportunities could be seen in the example of e-commerce player Shopify, which is looking to hire up to 50 people, or what it calls “gurus”, by early 2016 who can work remotely throughout the Galway region.
Connecting the regions
Shanahan said that the sectors that hold the most potential for regional development are most likely on the manufacturing side, in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and in engineering companies.
He said that through the example of Apple, which is building a €850m data centre in Athenry that will create 300 jobs in different phases, the 21st century could provide a welcome boost to regional locations.
“What’s important for data centre investment is the availability of energy, communications, water and a large land bank to host these data centres,” Shanahan said.
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD said that in the last four years there are 25,000 additional people at work in an IDA-supported company.
“For every one job in an IDA company there is a knock-on effect of close to one new job in the rest of the economy.
“It is very noticeable in how the impact of this investment in the last 12 to 18 months has contributed to the revival of the construction sector – 10,000 people are now employed directly in IDA projects and that is clearly a strong impact filtering out to the rest of the economy.”
However, he warned, there is no room for complacency: “The five-year strategy is challenging, the IDA is conscious of what it takes to remain competitive in an export-oriented economy and ensuring the up-to-date skills demanded by mobile investors [are available].
“Every Government department has a role to play to make sure Ireland is a competitive economy. The next horizon is full employment by 2018; that is an ambitious target,” Bruton said.