State agency Enterprise Ireland reveals that employment in backed firms is now at a record high.
Enterprise Ireland-backed companies created 19,332 jobs during 2017 and revealed that 209,338 people are now employed in supported firms.
This is the highest total employment achieved in the history of the agency.
‘Whatever the outcome of the complex Brexit negotiations that lie ahead, it is vital that, as a country, we are ready’
– HEATHER HUMPHREYS, TD
The 2017 performance recorded in the Enterprise Ireland end-of-year report saw a net increase of 10,309 jobs, when you take into account job losses during the year.
The job creation figures are up on 2016, despite the uncertainty that Irish businesses faced in 2017 in the context of Brexit.
Build, scale, expand
Enterprise Ireland reported growth in the following sectors: construction (8pc), engineering (8pc), life sciences (8pc), digital technology (6pc), electronics (6pc), food (4pc) and ICT (5pc).
It said that job creation was evenly spread across the country, with every county and region seeing increased employment.
Two-thirds (64pc) of the new jobs created were outside of Dublin. The west, mid-west and north-west saw the largest level of increases last year, at 7pc.
“Today’s figures represent another year of strong performance by our client companies who now employ over 209,000 people and are a barometer of the robust health of Irish businesses,” said the CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Julie Sinnamon.
Sinnamon said that, despite the challenge and uncertainty created by Brexit, Irish companies have continued to grow their global exports, supporting strong job creation across all regions of Ireland.
“At Enterprise Ireland, our strategy – Build Scale, Expand Reach 2017-2020 – is focused on transforming the innovation and competitive capabilities of Irish enterprise, to expand the global reach of ambitious Irish companies into diversified export markets, and we are pleased with the results of the first year of our new strategy.
“It is imperative, however, that Irish businesses continue to build on the strength of their 2017 performance and implement robust plans to prepare for the impact of Brexit.”
New fund to help overcome Brexit challenge
Overall, Enterprise Ireland is on a battle footing with the UK’s exit from the EU looming, and has launched a new Market Discovery Fund in response to this challenge.
The fund will support Enterprise Ireland-backed companies to diversify into new markets and promote new products to existing markets. It will support companies to appoint in-market accelerators, set up an in-market office, attend and exhibit at trade shows, and develop market research and collateral.
There are three levels of funding available to companies: up to €35,000, up to €75,000 and up to €150,000.
“In the context of Brexit, consolidating exports to the UK, while also expanding the Irish export footprint in markets beyond the UK, is a key priority for Enterprise Ireland,” Sinnamon explained.
“The new Market Discovery Fund, along with our intensive international programme of export-focused trade missions and our recently introduced Agile Innovation Fund, are key supports which will be instrumental to helping even more companies grow and reach new export markets. The new fund further underpins our goal of increasing exports by €5bn by 2020.”
The results were welcomed by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD.
“Today’s results are consistent with the strong employment performance across the economy,” Humphreys said.
“Whatever the outcome of the complex Brexit negotiations that lie ahead, it is vital that, as a country, we are ready, and that the Government continues to take initiatives to bolster the capacity of our enterprise agencies to drive exports and support investment.
“As a rural TD from a border area, I am acutely aware of the challenges facing indigenous businesses as a direct result of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
“In recent months, Enterprise Ireland, through funding provided by my department, has launched new measures to strengthen the rural and regional economy, and to provide quicker access to innovation funding for exporting companies,” Humphreys said.