Speaking to The Munster Express at the PwC South East Business Forum recently held at Kilkenny’s Lyrath Hotel, Ray O’Connor confirmed that Waterford and the south east will get new IDA jobs come the New Year.
However, he refused to be drawn into specifics; many will come from already announcements already made by both the IDA and the Government, while others will come from existing firms but in a more low-key manner.
Mr O’Connor said that the indicators were positive and while there may be some “displacements,” he was confident about overall additions to the region in 2015.
Waterford has a strong cluster of pharma companies and during his talk at the Business Forum, Mr O’Connor said that there were opportunities for Irish owner firms to become supply partners to expanding firms in back office services like payroll, accounts, building, engineering and electrical work-in clean room facilities.
Success in such Irish projects could lead to more overseas investment in other plants belonging to these multi national firms, he intimated.
Interestingly, he referred to the fact that Waterford has 28 IDA firms employing over 5,700 people, compared to five in Kilkenny employing 617, eight in South Tipperary that employ 3055, 15 in Wexford which employ 2437 and seven in Carlow with 735 employees.
The next two to three years will see considerable expansion, across a range of sectors but he cannot put numbers on it.
In the coming year we will have Glanbia’s Belview plant coming into operation, which will create 100-plus full-time jobs, while Danone in Wexford is also expanding.
Mr O’Connor was decidedly upbeat in his approach. He noted the growth in call centre employment with Tech Mahindra taking on over 100 staff in Waterford in the New Year (and also referred to Eishtec and Rigney Dolphin) while the West Pharma plant being built at Knockhouse which will lead to 150 highly-qualified recruits gaining employment.
And of course, Bausch and Lomb is to take on 50 staff, having let 200 go in a difficult situation last summer, it was noted.
Nypro is another firm recruiting and building up to a workforce of 200, Nuvasive has 30 staff and Indus financial with 10 are two other new IDA firms in Waterford.
Ray admitted that that the south east had its challenges and was taking longer to recover than the Dublin region, but there are positive things happening of late.
The new Pharma building in the Technology Park will be ready in December and the IDA is committed to marketing it strongly over the next 12 months.
Mr O’Connor also believes that the city and region may benefit from additional financial service jobs, given the area’s success via existing firms such as Sun Life (Waterford), State Street (Kilkenny) and Bank of New York (Wexford).
“The skills are already here,” he said. There could well be some firms re-locating business to Dublin from London and in turn they may look at the regions as well.
A renewed air link to London from Waterford would be an advantage and hugely beneficial for international firms, along with further investment in Belview Port.
On the questions of IT and software, he said the IDA was buoyed by the Feed Henry sale, which showcased the success of start-up business via the TSSG at WIT’s West Campus at Carriganore.
This research centre could attract multi national investment in the future for smaller software specialist projects and if that were the case additional building resource might be required. The supply of labour is there for new software firms, he said, whether Irish or overseas.
This is an area the IDA is also examining and they shall be working closely with TSSG, while funding from Horizon 2020 and other EU research funding could further benefit this sector.
While not getting into the university debate, he noted already how the necessary skills to attract multi nationals in pharma, financial services, IT and software to Ireland were already being created by our Institutes of Technology.
Green shoots are in evidence, said Ray O’Connor, as evidence by the slight improvements in job numbers. His cautious confidence was duly noted when speaking to us.