Ireland is “over the worst” of the announcements in relation to job cuts at big multinational tech firms with bases in this country, Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney has said.
Speaking in Cork following his visit to the west coast of the United States, where he had a series of meetings with a range of companies, Mr Coveney said large tech companies were keen to not only stay in this country but to grow and expand here.
He indicated that the overall message from the technology sector in the US was optimistic in spite of large companies such as Google and Twitter making cuts to their staff in Ireland in recent months.
“I certainly think we are over the worst in terms of announcements,” he said. “Of course some of the global announcements have yet to be translated in to announcements here in Ireland. But we may see a small number of further tech companies making announcements but certainly I think we have heard the majority of the announcements that we are going to hear.”
“Some of them of course have announced reductions in their global workforce and that has impacted on Ireland. Although it is true to say that the percentage cuts globally that companies have announced is normally more than the percentage cut here in Ireland,” he added.
He said the good news was that the tech sector in the US had emphasised that they “really like Ireland.”
Mr Coveney said that in essence most tech companies were taking back about 15-20 per cent of the growth they announced last year because it happened too quickly.
“There is a recognition of that now and so they are making cutbacks to reverse some of the growth of the last 18 months. That is the case. If you take any one of a number of examples of international companies that have added 20,000-30,000 jobs in the last 12 months and they are now taking back 10,000 or 12,000 of those, that is a trend across multiple companies big and small.”
The Minister said companies in the US were “at pains” to inform him that Ireland remained “hugely attractive for the tech sector.”
“They want to grow out of Ireland in the future but they need to make a global correction which will have some impact on Ireland in most cases although in most of the cases we have seen so far the cuts in Ireland are less than the global percentage cuts that are being announced.
“And I think that is also a signal that the value of jobs in Ireland to many of these tech companies is very, very high. The overall message is a positive one.
“Of course there are going to be some job losses and we will support people who are impacted by that. There are a lot of other tech jobs in the Irish economy and there are a lot of smaller tech companies that are growing and are looking for software engineers and other skills in the tech sector. I don’t think there will be a problem finding employment for people who are losing their jobs.
“The overall message – and I think it is really very important to say this because we travelled to meet the key decision-makers in tech companies for a reason – that they were giving me is that Ireland is a place where they plan to grow and to invest more in the future, not less, despite this temporary correction that is necessary.”
Mr Coveney stressed that the biggest tech company, Apple, had not made any cuts to its staffing levels in Ireland and was instead planning to increase its workforce in the State.
Meanwhile, when asked if the housing crisis was a barrier in terms of multinationals choosing to locate in Ireland, the Minister said there were always “ongoing challenges” in relation to keeping the State competitive and attractive for overseas firms.
“For the first time ever we now have more than 300,000 people employed in IDA-supported multinationals in Ireland. The figure probably won’t be as high this year but it will still grow,” he said.