ECONOMY NOW IN STRONG POST-RECOVERY PHASE – IBEC
The Irish economy has moved past its recovery phase and has enough strength and momentum to shrug off the impact of Brexit in 2018, according to an upbeat forecast from employers representative group IBEC
In its latest economic outlook, IBEC said the current phase of growth is more sustainable than the Celtic Tiger era as it is based on business investment rather than being fuelled by excessive borrowing.
IBEC’s latest outlook forecasts growth of 4.2% for this year following expected growth of almost 6% in 2017.
‘‘All indicators are now pointing to strong and sustainable growth in Ireland’s economy in 2017 and 2018 underpinned by business investment and strong consumer spending,’’ the employer’s body stated.
It said that Irish households are clearly benefiting with real disposable incomes growing at over four times the Eurozone average and per-capita income in working households now likely to have passed out its pre-crisis peak.
IBEC’s Head of Tax and Fiscal Policy Gerard Brady said this current phase of the Irish economy is more sustainable than the ‘‘boom’’ period as it is underpinned by business investment in plant, machinery, and equipment (excluding IP and aircraft leasing activities) of almost €1 billion per month.
‘‘In addition, figures show that Irish households are now in a positive net financial position (deposits outweigh loans outstanding) for the first time since the late 1990s. As a result, the net wealth position of Irish households in nominal terms has never been better whilst high Government debt is falling rapidly toward European norms,’’ Mr. Brady said.
But he said the major question facing the economy over the coming years will continue to be the ability of the economy to meet the needs of a growing population in a sustainable manner.
He said that major challenges are already clear in the housing sector.
‘‘Our estimates today show that to meet Rebuilding Ireland’s target of 26,000 house completions along with other construction needs by 2020 there will need to be in the region of 50,000 additional construction workers,’’ he stated.
Meeting 40,000 housing units a year would increase this to almost 80,000 workers, he added.
‘‘Delivering on the promise of growth with stretched capacity and a tight labour market, whilst also maintaining competitiveness, will be a key challenge ahead for both business and the Government,’’ Mr. Brady stated.
ISME: IRISH BUSINESSES UNPREPARED FOR NEW DATA PROTECTION REGULATIONS
Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (ISME) has warned Irish companies to implement the changes to comply with a new data regulations. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force May 28th of this year, replacing the existing protection frameworks under the EU data protection directive.
A new General Data Protection Regulations survey by ISME gives a breakdown of GDPR compliance among SMEs and the actions taken to date on GDPR compliance.
It found that:
- 83% of respondents are aware of GDPR
- Only 7% of businesses have completed their GDPR plan
- 60% of respondents use and collect Personal Data
- 30% are unsure if what they hold is considered Personal Data
- Only 38% could name any of the changes that GDPR will bring
- 30% of business have identified the steps/actions needed, 70% have not
- 76% of businesses are concerned about GDPR
- 32% of businesses are planning to use an outside resource to help with their GDPR action plan
- 67% of business would like to see training offered on GDPR
- 41% of business have a staff member who is responsible for overseeing compliance with data protection and preparing for the
ISME CEO Neil McDonnell said: ‘‘Today’s results paint an interesting picture of GDPR compliance.’’
‘‘We received a very healthy response to this survey, which tells us businesses are curious about it. One of the main findings is that businesses are aware of GDPR, but know very little about the intricacies of compliance.’’
‘‘The impact of non-compliance of GDPR on a business could be serious, as there is a serious fines regime in place to discourage it.’’
‘‘Businesses must take these new measures seriously’’.
MOST IRISH BUSINESSES USING SOCIAL MEDIA BUT ONLINE SALES STILL LOW
Almost two-thirds of Irish companies use social media to promote their businesses and communicate with customers, the second highest number in Europe, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
In 2017, 69 percent of Irish enterprises employing 10 or more people were using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, compared with an EU average of 47 percent.
The figures also reveals that the use of social media by Irish businesses rose from 64 percent in 2015 and 67 percent a year later. Facebook was by far the most popular social media platform used by Irish businesses to connect with customers, with 67 percent of companies saying they used it, up from 65 percent in 2016 and from 62 percent in 2015. In addition, 32 per cent of Irish firms said they used Twitter, with 23 per cent using YouTube. This compares with usage rates of 30 per cent and 21 per cent respectively in 2015.
Irish businesses are also ahead of the curve in using customer relationship management (CRM) software, with 34 per cent of companies saying they availed of it to capture, store and make information available for other functions. This compares to an EU average of 33 per cent. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) was used by 29 per cent of businesses, the figures show. Over 12 per cent of Irish enterprises reported that they shared information electronically using Supply Chain Management (SCM) in 2017. The most popular method was via websites or web portals. Unsurprisingly, large enterprises led the way in terms of conducting sales electronically. However, almost all businesses said they made more online purchases than sales online.
MORE THAN 19,000 JOBS CREATED BY ENTERPRISE IRELAND COMPANIES IN 2017
More than 19,000 jobs were created in Enterprise Ireland- backed companies last year. The agency said 209,338 people are now employed in companies it supports – a record high. There was a net jobs increase of 10,309, taking account of job losses. Job creation figures are up on 2016. Two thirds of the 19,332 new jobs were outside of Dublin. The agency also announced a Market Discovery Fund to support firms to diversify into new markets in the context of Brexit. There are three levels of funding available: up to €35,000, up to €75,000 and up to €150,000.
56% OF IRISH COMPANIES HIRE RETURNING IRISH PROFESSIONALS
Irish professionals working overseas are opting to return home in greater numbers, with 56 per cent of the companies surveyed in a new report having hired returning Irish nationals in 2017, up from 47 per cent the previous year.
The trend was strongest in the finance and banking sector at 71 per cent, according to the 2018 Salary, Employment and Economic Trends Survey compiled by Abrivia Recruitment in partnership with Trinity Business School.
Some 7,400 companies and 45,000 employees were questioned for the report, which found that the shortage of rental accommodation continues to bite. Forty-seven per cent of employers surveyed in the report said it was impacting on their ability to hire staff, up from 40 per cent in the previous year. Thirty-seven per cent of the companies surveyed cited the cost of buying residential property as a major issue in recruiting staff in 2017, up from 27 per cent in 2016.
Seventy per cent of employers increased headcount in 2017, the majority by between 10 and 20 per cent. Thirty- one per cent of employers surveyed said ICT roles were the most difficult to fill. For a growing proportion of ICT firms, the report found that more than a quarter of their staff were coming from outside the EU.
“Eighty-five per cent of employers surveyed plan to take on new staff in 2018 with salaries in IT and finance pulling far ahead of other sectors,” said Donal O’Brien, managing director, Abrivia Recruitment. “In line with the general trend of staff shortages in key areas, 64 per cent of employers have employed a non-Irish applicant based outside Ireland in the past 12 months, up from 58 per cent in the previous survey.”