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An Interview with Catherine Howard of IDA Ireland

Published on: 6 Mar 2017

1. Tell us a bit more about your role in IDA Ireland?

I work in the Technology Division, specifically with companies headquartered in Silicon Valley.  It’s a diverse portfolio of clients – some are already established in Ireland, some are thinking about setting up here.Companies range in sectors, from cyber security to connected health, from semiconductors to SaaS, from data analytics to flash storage and of course, the internet of things.  

2. What makes Ireland an attractive location for foreign direct investment?

The workforce we have in Ireland is a huge attraction.  Not only our existing skills base but the opportunity for collaboration with third level institutions is of great value.  Our colleges produce fantastic graduates every year.  One of the huge advantages we have is that Irish academia work closely with industry.  Across sectors, universities find out what skills companies need, and ensure that the right topics are covered in each syllabus.  The other side of university collaboration is research – there is a lot of opportunity in Ireland for R&D in partnership with third level colleges up and down the country.  

3. What were the high growth sectors in 2016?

We are seeing a lot of demand for software engineers, particularly those with Big Data experience.  Our clients are on the lookout for Python skills, QA experience, Senior Dev/Ops and Full Stack SaaS Engineers.  More and more software development is taking place in Ireland, simply because we continue to prove ourselves in capability and value for money.  

4. Have you witnessed any noteworthy trends in the past year?

Tech companies considering Ireland as a location are looking at all their options.  52% of new jobs created by IDA firms in 2016 were outside Dublin. There’s great opportunity to hire strong engineering skills in Galway, Limerick, Cork and Shannon.  After spending time studying or working in Dublin, young professionals are looking to move home, so the opening of a new big name in a regional location is a fantastic opportunity for both the company, and individuals with key talent.  

5. Do you think the recent political changes in the USA will affect the flow of FDI to Ireland?

Ireland is one of the most productive countries in the EU, almost 36% above the European average.  We are the only English speaking country in the Eurozone.  We operate in a time zone that suits a lot of our client companies operating a follow-the-sun model.  The majority of our goods and services are exported to Europe – multinationals need to be in-region to service their markets, so there will still be a need to locate here.  When you consider that over 50% of 25-44 year olds in Ireland hold third level qualifications, it helps make us very attractive.  Ireland is the perfect location for R&D too – we are the 7th most innovative country in the world and have a robust support structure for carrying out collaborative research here.  

IDA Ireland have partnered with 1200 clients helping them establish their Irish operations. Find out more here