New study of Irish senior executives shows surge in optimism about the economy in 2014

Business, Economy | Mon 6 Jan | Author – Business & Finance
Ruth Curran
Ruth Curran, partner, MERC Partners

A study of 472 Irish senior executives published today indicates that nine out of 10 respondents believe that prospects for the Irish economy are more positive than they were at this time last year.

Almost half (47%) believe that their company will employ more people this year, with less than 20% believing that their workforce will decline over this period.

The study, now in its third year, was conducted by Amárach Research on behalf of MERC Partners and  covered two broad themes: views of senior executives on the prospects for our economy; and what senior executives see as action priorities for Government.

Ruth Curran, partner with MERC Partners, said that this new research provides Government and the business community with some interesting insights. “Coming after Budget 2014 and the bailout exit, this survey reveals a surge in optimism across Irish senior executives. Some 24% are ‘much more positive’ and 66%  are ‘slightly more positive’ than they were 12 months ago. The combined 90% positive figures compares with a 58% positive score at the same time last year.

Curran also said that MERC Partners  asked about the impact that the emigration of graduates and skilled workers has had on their companies. “Perhaps surprisingly, over half (51%) said it has impacted negatively, with one in eight saying that the impact had been significant. The optimism revealed for the economy generally was not in evidence when respondents were asked about the likely future impact of emigration. 27% expect the rate to increase while nearly half (47%) believe it will remain the same over the next three years. Only 27% believe it will decline.”

The open nature of the Irish economy and the importance of internationally mobile staff were also supported by the finding that 40% of relevant companies had to go abroad to find key staff. The skills that were deemed to be lacking most in Ireland were leadership skills, change management skills and IT skills.

According to Curran, an overwhelming number of respondents (78%) attribute the presence of the Troika with the economic progress made in the past three years – just 14% disagreed.

Commenting on the overall results, Curran said that while there was a strong sense of optimism amongst respondents about the economy generally, that tended to be somewhat muted but still evident when commenting on their own organisations. “The big test in 2014 will be whether this general feel-good factor can be translated into increased sales and employment growth.  The signs are good but the outcomes are not a foregone conclusion.”