By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The computer giant Hewlett-Packard is to create 540 new jobs in Dublin and Kildare.
Meanwhile, the Xerox information technology company is to hire another 600 people at its operations in Dublin and Dundalk to bring the total Irish workforce to 4,100 by 2003.
The new Hewlett-Packard European Data Center at Leixlip, Co. Kildare, will initially generate 140 jobs in an operation that will enable companies across Europe to outsource part of their internet and IT functions.
A recruitment drive has also been launched to fill another 400 jobs — 100 of these for a customer support center in Blackrock, Dublin.
The company already employs 1,600 people in Ireland.
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The new outsourcing center in Leixlip is being grant-aided by the Industrial Development Authority, according to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who described the developments as a "vote of confidence" in Ireland.
The worldwide market for IT outsourcing is estimated to be worth £50 billion and to be growing at a rate of 35 percent a year.
Fiona Fox, HP Ireland’s services and support manager, said that because of a worldwide IT skills shortage and dramatically increased competition caused by the emergence of an electronic society, it no longer made sense to manage day-to-day IT systems in-house.
HP first set up an inkjet printer component assembly plant in Leixlip in 1995 with an investment of £100 million. Two subsequent expansions involved investment of £318 million.
The company’s international bank is also located on the Leixlip site.
The company employs more than 83,000 people in 120 countries with net revenues of $42.4 billion in the fiscal year 1999.
The IDA is also grant-aiding the latest £34 million expansion at the Xerox manufacturing plant in Dundalk and the business support services center in Blanchardstown, Co Dublin.
Tanaiste and Enterprise Minister Mary Harney said 420 of the new jobs would be in Dublin and 180 in Dundalk.
"The Irish operation is the single largest greenfield undertaking by Xerox and has been the fastest and most successful business ramp-up in the company’s history," Harney said.
It is the third major investment announcement by Xerox in Ireland in 18 months.
In June 1998, Xerox announced its first £186 million operation and last June a further £180 million expansion was unveiled.
The Xerox investment is ahead of schedule with 1,775 jobs already created — 1,490 in Dublin and 285 in Dundalk.