Belfast Telegraph

Foreign firm workers total at peak

The number of people working in foreign firms backed by IDA Ireland soared by more than 7,000 last year taking the total in the sector to another record high.

While 7,881 jobs were lost in the sector last year, companies created 15,012 jobs taking the total workforce in multinationals backed by the agency to 174,488 - passed targets originally set in its plans for 2020.

In its review of the year the agency said there were 197 investments - up a fifth on 2013 - with 88 of those companies locating operations in Ireland for the first time.

IDA Ireland estimates that for every 10 jobs created in the multinational sector another seven are created in the wider domestic economy.

Chief executive Martin Shanahan said: "Our focus at IDA is real jobs, real companies and real economic impact and in that context 2014 was a very successful year. While the direct jobs created are of course welcome, we are seeing noticeable gains for the wider domestic economy from the investments made by overseas companies we work with."

The IDA said there were job gains across most sectors it focuses on but particularly in digital media and content, ICT, international financial services, life sciences and business services.

Among the leading investments secured during the year were Amazon, Bristol Myers Squibb, Fidelity, LinkedIn, Survey Monkey, Air Bnb, PayPal, Ericsson, SAP, Johnson & Johnson, West Pharmaceuticals, Zendesk, Adroll and New Relic.

The agency said an estimated 10,000 people are working on construction projects for IDA client companies which it described as vital investment bringing balance to the wider economy with local communities and sub-contractors benefiting most.

The IDA is planning to publish its latest five year strategy in the next three months.

It said it achieved successes in job creation against a particularly challenging European economic environment and changing corporate taxation landscape.

The agency also pointed to a dynamic talent pool, improved macroeconomic conditions and a concentration on several core sectors as among the contributors to the strong 2014 performance.

Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, described the jobs growth as having a massive knock-on impact for the economy.

"Multinational companies account for almost 10% of the Irish workforce and are of crucial strategic importance for the economy due to the quality of the jobs involved, their export focus and the massive knock-on impact they have on the wider economy," Mr Bruton said.

"That is why we have put in place a range of new measures to support extra jobs in this area over the past four years, such as extra IDA staff in foreign markets, increased skilled graduates and an improved tax offering."

Looking ahead to this year, Mr Shanahan said he was optimistic about job creation in multinationals.

"In relation to the remainder of the year we are cautiously optimistic Ireland is in a good position to win significant business across a range of sectors," he said.

"However all business is hard-won and we need to be vigilant and avoid complacency, particularly in the area of cost competitiveness. The mistakes of the past must not be repeated. A poor growth outlook for Europe will also be a challenge.

"Finally, the importance of the education and training sector providing a supply of talented graduates cannot be overstated. Despite a challenging environment, IDA is confident it can turn in a strong performance in 2015, particularly building on the new strategic direction we will set for the organisation shortly''.

The IDA also praised the Government's initiative of a corporation tax break for the so-called knowledge box where companies can avail of lower tax rates for profits on products using a best in class or patent classification.

On the clampdown on companies using the Double Irish system of having two companies in Ireland to divert profits between subsidiaries and reduce taxes, the IDA said: "The Irish corporate tax proposition is firmly built around having economic substance, in terms of employees, payroll and capital investment and as a result any changes being considered internationally should benefit Ireland, not threaten Ireland's current portfolio."

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