By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The IDA has reduced its target for job creation by foreign companies to 12,000, a quarter less than what it achieved last year, according to its annual report.
Chief executive Sean Dorgan said the focus was no longer on job numbers but on attracting new investment into the regions and getting new technologies and skills into the country.
"The other big challenge we have is to make Ireland really the place for e-business in Europe," Dorgan said.
He said it had to be recognized that because of the increase in employment in recent years, there is no longer cheap labor in abundance. He said jobs that demand higher skills and command higher salaries must be created.
He said the new Global Crossing company fiber optic global broadband connection, which landed in Wexford in February, would mean an "explosion" in e-business in the next year. It will be operational from next month.
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"We see a whole range of telecom and service providers making huge investments," Dorgan said. "They’ll spend about half a billion pounds within the next year to put the infrastructure for e-business in place."
Companies supported by IDA Ireland created 18,079 jobs during the year, bringing total employment to 124,664 and representing 7.5 percent net growth.
This job-creation level continues the unprecedented growth rates of the previous five years. Employment in IDA supported companies has increased by 50 percent since 1994.
The average cost of each per job created fell to £10,260, less than half what they costs ten years ago.
The internationally traded services sector recorded the most significant growth of 24 percent during 1999, with healthcare and pharmaceuticals showing growth of more than 9 percent, and the information and communications technology sector having 4 percent growth.
The IDA secured 186 new projects during the year, 90 of them in manufacturing and international services and 96 in regulated financial services.
Corporation tax payments from IDA companies now exceed £1 billion a year, their spending in the economy having more than doubled in the last six years, to £9.4 billion a year. Exports were now worth nearly £26 billion a year.
The report says Ireland’s overall market share of U.S. greenfield manufacturing investment is holding at 23 percent and it continues to be the market leader in Europe in software, teleservices, shared services and pharmaceutical/healthcare projects.