Companies see record export levels
Irish firms are celebrating record exports, which have returned to pre-recession levels.
Enterprise Ireland said employment has also stabilised in Irish exporting companies, which are using a renewed confidence to aggressively target opportunities in international markets.
The group's end-of-year statement for 2011 revealed new export sales are expected to reach in excess of 1 billion euro within weeks.
Frank Ryan, Enterprise Ireland chief executive, said companies that faced severe global economic conditions had emerged leaner, stronger and with a greater appetite for international growth than ever before.
"They have proved to be resilient and relentless in their pursuit of new market opportunities and they are to be commended on their success," he said. "Enterprise Ireland is determined to continue to support their job creation initiatives and identify and help secure overseas business in established and high-growth markets."
Figures show employment in Enterprise Ireland client companies stood at 162,692 this year, including 141,228 full-time posts and 21,464 part-time.
Enterprise Ireland said new initiatives during the year included start funds for very early stage entrepreneurs, a 10 million euro international fund for attracting entrepreneurs from overseas, and the opening the group's first office in South Africa.
It revealed 2011 also saw a record number of Irish companies being acquired by overseas multinationals, including Research in Motion and IBM. However, Mr Ryan warned 2012 will be a year of continuing challenges.
Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said creating an indigenous engine of economic growth is central to his plan for revitalising the economy. He said: "Enterprise Ireland, and the various supports it provides to domestic businesses, particularly in the exporting sector, will be key to this."
Mr Bruton later announced that 528 jobs will be created over the next three years in 32 new high-potential start-up companies which have been supported by the Government through Enterprise Ireland. He maintained the announcement builds on the 755 new jobs announced in the first half of the year.