IDA Ireland reports highest increase in FDI employment in a single year

By Business & Finance
21 December 2021
Martin Shanahan
Pictured: Martin Shanahan, CEO, IDA Ireland

IDA Ireland, the inward investment promotion and development agency of the Irish Government, reported a record breaking year for FDI employment with significantly higher levels of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 2021 compared with 2020 and strong gains recorded in both gross and net employment.

Total employment in IDA client companies in Ireland now stands at 275,384, up 16,826 on 2020.  104 of the 249 investments won in 2021 were new name investments, a better than anticipated new name performance considering the ongoing restrictions due to the pandemic.

Growth in employment in 2021 brought the number of people employed in the FDI sector in Ireland to 275,384 from 258,558 last year.  Job losses remained at a relatively modest level relative to the size of the overall portfolio resulting in an extremely strong net employment growth this year – (16,826 net increase).

Growth in regions was particularly buoyant with 53% – 133 projects of the 249 investments won going to regional locations and employment growth recorded in every region of the country.

The strong growth in regional investment was supported by IDA Ireland’s property programme. A robust property and infrastructure ecosystem can be the key differentiator in winning FDI projects, as evidenced by the record regional results achieved under IDA’s Winning 2015-2019 strategy. This positive momentum has been maintained since the commencement of our new strategy.

The 2021 figures show a pattern of sustained, robust growth in FDI investment and FDI-related employment over a continuous period of more than ten-years. This year’s results represent a strong start to IDA’s new 2021-2024 strategy, Driving Recovery and Sustainable Growth, which seeks to further enhance FDI’s place at the centre of a resilient, sustainable, and inclusive Irish economy.

Martin Shanahan, CEO IDA Ireland said: “These 2021 results were achieved in an immensely challenging and volatile international environment. Ireland’s performance in attracting FDI to achieve these record results is testament to the work of the Agency’s teams in Ireland and around the world, to the success of the client companies that we partner with on a daily basis and to the support of Government.

Looking at the period 2020/2021, despite the challenges faced by individual companies, to date FDI in Ireland has come through the pandemic relatively unscathed. This is largely down to the sectors that IDA has targeted over the past decade – Technology, Pharma, Medical Technology, International Financial Services, Business services, Engineering and Food – those sectors that underpin a modern economy.

In addition to employment growth last year, we now know from the forthcoming ABSEI survey that expenditure within the economy by FDI companies increased by 8.8% during 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. This resilience and growth from FDI has shored up our economy and the national finances.  

If further steps are taken to improve Ireland’s attractiveness as a place to live and do business, the remarkable growth, resilience, and innovation exhibited by IDA’s client base over 2021 – and for much of the last 10+ years – provide an immensely valuable and nationally important platform for the future.”

There are now close to 1,700 multinational operations supported by IDA in Ireland accounting directly for 11% of the Irish workforce.

The benefit of their presence here to Ireland is obvious in the context of their contribution to employment but it goes far beyond their direct and indirect employment contribution.

Their impact nationally and regionally to public finances, regional development, global value chain integration, spin-off indigenous enterprise, innovation and more can be clearly seen in their expenditure in the Irish economy. The most recent figures, from the forthcoming ABSEI results, which relate to 2020, show that payroll spend was €16.8bn, up 11%, combined spend of €11bn on materials and services sourced in Ireland up 6% to give a total spend in the Irish Economy of €27.9bn, up 8.8% on 2019. Exports were valued at €290.7bn, up 9.2% on 2019.

Capital investment amounted to €7.5bn, up 3.7% on 2019, with the largest spend once again coming from the Life Sciences and Technology sectors.