Internationalisation Survey: 35% of Business Leaders cite access to working capital as primary restriction to greater exports

91% CEOs demand more IT, Science and Engineering College places to meet business demand

  • Irish CEOs “bullishly confident” about GDP growth – 69% believe it will hit or exceed 3%for 2014
  • Over half continue to identify UK as most important market for future growth

Business sentiment is rising - as signalled by the results of a new survey undertaken by Enterprise Ireland and Deloitte in advance of the CEO Forum to be held in Dublin Castle on November 26th, 2014, the theme of which is “Internationalisation”. The event will see over 300 of the country’s leading CEOs listen to key note addresses from Michael O’Leary, Ryanair and Anne Heraty, CPL, as well as other speakers and panellists including Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton.

The survey looked at the views of CEOs from leading Irish businesses in relation to internationalisation opportunities and challenges, the economic outlook for 2015 and the adequacy of Irish education programmes in disciplines such as IT, Maths & Science to meet the growing economic demand.

Respondents were asked what they believe are the main challenges businesses face in maximising their international potential and unsurprisingly access to working capital was the key single concern for the 35%. However, people issues are the dominant overall concern for 53% of CEOs with 12% identifying staff mobility, 20% availability of graduates here and a further 21% stressing the difficulty of sourcing suitable qualified and skilled local employees abroad. 20% felt that this was especially applicable in the areas of IT, Science, Engineering and Maths.  Only 12% felt that they faced significant challenges in adapting their products to new markets.

The CeoForum survey also revealed that Irish businesses are still relatively dependent on UK; EU and North American markets. When asked which of the following markets were most important for their company's growth 55% of respondents identified the UK, 21% North America, 16% EU, with only 4% naming BRIC (Brazil India Russia China), 3% Asia Pacific and just 1% CIVITS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa).

Positive Outlook

According to David Hearn, Head of Consulting at Deloitte, “CEOs are positive about the economic outlook for Ireland with 69% believing that GDP will match or exceed recent predictions of 3% and just under 25% believing that it will be 4% or above. Others were slightly more cautious in their forecasts – 29% said GDP growth would be just 2%”. A large majority (77%) are confident about Ireland's capacity to exceed average EU GDP growth rates over the next 2-3 years.” 

Educational Output

While the tone of the survey was predominantly positive, the area of education and skills training is an area Irish business leaders felt that a higher output was required and if this was delivered, it would have a positive impact on the Irish economy. 9 out of 10 respondents felt that with CAO points’ requirements growing strongly every year for key FDI related disciplines such as IT, Science and Engineering, the number of places in 3rd level institutions should be increased in each of these disciplines to meet business demand.

70% also believe that 3 years’ experience of the honours maths bonus points in the Leaving Certificate was positive and will result in higher skilled graduates.

The Export Culture

Commenting on the importance of fostering a stronger export culture, Julie Sinnamon CEO of Enterprise Ireland said, “Internationalisation is imperative to economic success – Ireland is too small to build businesses of scale without substantial exports – we need to encourage our brave business owners to chase bigger market opportunities overseas. Support for companies focused on growth through international sales is a priority. Going global with a business can secure a company’s future, safeguard Irish jobs, expose businesses to a whole new world of ideas and enable them to compete, and win, against the best in the world”.


Note to the Editor

Purpose of the CEO Forum

The primary focus of the CEO Forum is to create an opportunity for chief executives to discuss what they perceive to be the major issues facing their companies and Irish businesses. The forum provides a unique opportunity for CEOs to share information, air their views and hear, first-hand, the experiences of some of Ireland’s leading CEOs, who talk about their businesses and the challenges they face both nationally and internationally.

About Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland is the government agency responsible for the development and promotion of the indigenous business sector. The mission of Enterprise Ireland is to accelerate the development of world-class Irish companies to achieve strong positions in global markets, resulting in increased national and regional prosperity.

Full details of Enterprise Ireland support and activities can be found on its website

About Deloitte

Deloitte is the world’s largest professional services firm with over 200,000 professionals, committed to becoming the standard of excellence. In Ireland we have c. 1,700 people providing audit, consulting, corporate finance and tax services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges.