THE number of people working in Enterprise Ireland (EI) client companies in Clare rocketed last year, according to figures presented to the Dáil by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton.
There were 1,580 people in full-time jobs in Enterprise Ireland’s Clare-based client companies in 2012, which jumped by 921 to 2,501 last year. In addition, the number of people working in non full-time roles in EI client companies increased substantially, from 194 to 365. Indeed, the number of client companies in the Banner increased by just over a quarter, from 120 to 151.
Separately, there is speculation that one Clare-based multinational could announce the creation of several hundred jobs in the early part of next year. If this comes to pass, it would be by far the biggest employment boost seen in the county for years.
Enterprise Ireland is the State organisation responsible for supporting the development of Irish enterprises that are involved in exporting. To put EI’s Clare performance in context, Cork and Dublin were the only counties that saw more of a net increase in full-time jobs.
However, the picture wasn’t as positive in relation to employment in the county in companies supported by IDA Ireland.
The IDA’s role differs from that of EI, in that it seeks to win foreign direct investment for the country. The numbers employed full-time by companies that IDA support in Clare dropped from 1,263 to 1,238 in 2013.
The number employed in other capacities also fell, from 138 to 102.
IDA Ireland was supporting 13 companies in Clare last year, compared to 14 in 2012.
There was some more positive news in relation to site visits by potential investors, as Clare had more than most counties in the first nine months of this year.
There were nine visits to the county by potential investors and the only counties with more were Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Louth.
Alan Hobbs, head of corporate communications at Enterprise Ireland, said 2013 was the best year the agency had seen for some time. “Last year, we had a return to net employment growth, I think it was just over 5,400 jobs. That’s a welcome change from where we were a few years ago. In 2009, we had net losses of 30,000.”
He said the successes of 2013 reflect the quality of Irish produce. “The vast majority of our client base are primarily exporters. They don’t rely on the four million people in the country for their turnover and I think it’s a testimony to the quality of goods and services that they’re producing. That’s as a result of continuous investment in research and innovation, bringing world-class products into the market place. We have 31 offices around the world that can help small companies grow and build market share.”
Overall, he said 2013 saw the largest net increase in jobs of the last decade and that the turnaround has been quite dramatic. “It’s like night and day in terms of comparison. There’s still a big job to do though.”
Mr Hobbs said even more than 921 new full-time jobs must have been created in the county because, inevitably, there would have been a certain amount of jobs eliminated also.
He said the new jobs created by Enterprise Ireland clients typically have a significant knock-on effect. “For every job an EI client provides directly, there are another 1.7 jobs supported. There’s a very strong multiplier because of the input required by indigenous companies.”
Clare TD Joe Carey said the creation of up to 1,000 jobs at Enterprise Ireland client companies is very welcome and, although further improvement is needed, the economy is now growing.
“It’s encouraging to hear the figures and to see the amount of jobs being created by Enterprise Ireland-backed companies. There is a renewed optimism among the business community throughout the country and in County Clare. Still, we’d like to see a lot more jobs being created.
“Industries like tourism have benefited a lot this year. We’ve seen passenger numbers improve at the airport and we’ve seen the benefit of that in our pubs and hotels and guesthouses. Construction is an industry that has been hit and we, as a Government, want to rejuvenate it.”
“We have put together a strategy trying to encourage more construction. There is a housing shortage in certain parts of the country and we need to get trades people back into work.”
Regarding the level of IDA Ireland-sponsored site visits by potential investors, he said, “We’re attracting more visits than some other counties but, in other years, we didn’t fare as well. What I’d like to see is more jobs being created as a result of these visits.”
He said he is aware that some of the multinationals based in Shannon are now looking for staff. “Some companies are actively recruiting, which is welcome and it’s all about getting job opportunities to help people get back to life as it was before the recession.”