IDA Ireland chief executive Sean Dorgan has revealed that the ICT sector is showing signs of recovery, with some areas of growth in specialised segments and telecoms beginning to see a turnaround. Launching the agency’s annual report, Dorgan said that in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) software growth is projected at 6pc to 8pc, with enterprise software showing the strongest growth, projected at around 10pc.
Dorgan said that Intel’s recent €1.6bn investment in additional technology facilities was the single most important decision for IDA and for Ireland so far this year. Other notable announcements include Merrill Lynch’s 700-job expansion in Dublin as well as IBM investing €22m in its software R&D centre in Dublin.
According to recent independent reports, Ireland is also increasing its market share of FDI in key sectors, especially in shared services and Research and Development centres. “Ireland is now the predominant location in Europe for shared services, the premier location for pharmaceutical and medical technologies, the leading location for software and significantly improving as a location for R&D, while retaining a good reputation for high value added manufacturing,” said Dorgan.
Confirming that 32 new investments and 10 research and development projects had been secured so far this year, Dorgan said that there was an encouraging increase – of close to one fifth – in the number of site visits by potential investors.
“As we are now competing for the higher-level knowledge intensive projects the job of promotion and selling has become tougher. Investors are nearly taking it for granted that we can deliver the basics in world-class infrastructure and services, but there is more intensive and thorough investigation by them of skills and competencies in the workforce than ever before. We are getting the right numbers and the right kind of potential investors in to look at locations in Ireland – the challenge is to win the high value and skills-based investments that they have,” Dorgan said.
Dorgan said that the focus by investors on skills rather than on costs and quality of services reflects the calibre of the new projects that Ireland must win to meet the aspirations of the workforce for quality, well paid employment that can provide sustainable and challenging career opportunities.
“IDA’s work, more than ever, is about delivering quality projects, reflecting Ireland’s position as a knowledge economy. We can confirm that up to 40pc of the new jobs negotiated so far this year are above the €37,000 per annum salary benchmark we consider defines high skilled employment,” he said.
Dorgan warned, however, that this drive for skills will place an unprecedented challenge on the shoulders of both the universities and Institutes of Technology to field the quality of graduates that will be demanded.
“The Universities and Institutes are without doubt having the greatest influence on the final choice of location for new inward investment projects,” Dorgan added.
By John Kennedy