The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar and Enterprise Ireland today announced that total employment in Enterprise Ireland supported companies was 220,613 at the end of 2020.
Job creation closely matched the performance in 2019, with 16,496 new jobs created in Enterprise Ireland backed companies last year. However, job losses increased to 17,368 which resulted in net job losses of 872.
Enterprise Ireland client companies in some sectors saw significant growth in 2020, including Life Sciences (6.8% employment growth), Cleantech (6% employment growth) and Construction (4.7% employment growth), while some saw overall job losses, for example clients in the food sector (-1.5%). Enterprise Ireland say it is important to note that there has been significant disruption to all workers throughout the year.
In total, €142m in funding was provided to 1,919 companies under a range of Covid-19 funding initiatives introduced in response to the pandemic, including €11.8m under the Online Retail Scheme. There was also €8.2m approved under the Enterprise Centres Fund. In addition, 8,650 companies were supported through Enterprise Ireland’s Covid-19 information hub, online support and helpline.
Enterprise Ireland also continued its focus on assisting Irish businesses to prepare for Brexit in 2020 and approved €7.6m to support 1,000 customs roles to help Irish exporters to the UK to strengthen their capability to comply with new customs rules arising from Brexit.
The organisation also announced its new strategic priorities for 2021 which has set out ambitions to sustain and increase employment to 222,000, support a recovery in exports, with a continued focus on market diversification, in particular to the Eurozone, and to increase the level of R&D investment by Irish companies to €1.25bn.
Looking ahead for the year, Enterprise Ireland CEO, Julie Sinnamon said, "Last year underlined the importance of efficiency, agility and innovation in business. In 2021 we will support transformational change within our client base and, in particular, help more Irish SMEs to adapt their business models and invest in R&D, increase adoption of digital technologies, and respond to climate change and carbon reduction opportunities for future business growth. Another priority area for 2021 is to maximise the number of start-up companies, increase the number of high growth clients achieving scale and expand the number of exporting companies."
She added, "Having strong, innovative, regionally based exporting companies is vital to balanced economic development and sustaining and creating high value jobs into the future. 2021 will be a critical year for Irish enterprise and we will work closely with Irish businesses to help them accelerate the recovery."