Exports by Irish companies hit all-time high of €18.6 billion following 10% increase

30th April 2015

Steady annual increase in exports from Irish companies from €13.9billion in2010 as part of drive to create a powerful engine of Irish industry

Announcement of Enterprise Ireland export results for 2014 comes as
Government publishes Action Plan for Jobs 13th Progress Report

Action Plan for JobsExports by Irish companies increased by 10% during 2014 to hit an all-time high of €18.6billion, the Government announced today (Thursday 30th April, 2015).

Growth was recorded in exports to all international markets and across all sectors, according to the official figures published by Enterprise Ireland today.

The announcement is being made as the Government publishes the 13th Action Plan for Jobs Progress Report at an event at Enterprise Ireland HQ at East Point, Dublin, today. The Progress Report, part of the monitoring process put in place when the Action Plan for Jobs was first launched in February 2012, showed that 101 of the 113 measures scheduled for delivery during Q1 2015 have been delivered. Among the measures delivered include:

  • Action Plan for Jobs Regional – secured €250million in additional funding for regional jobs support and set out a framework for 8 regional jobs plans which will be finalised by mid year.
  • Started lending under the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland - €400million in lending for SMEs made available through agreements signed with AIB and Bank of Ireland.
  • Made improvements to Microfinance Ireland, in order to make it easier for SMEs to access lending under this scheme.
  • Increased the number of places for young people on JobsPlus (cash incentive for employers to recruit from the live register).
  • Launched and commenced implementing a new IDA Ireland 5-year strategy, aimed at creating 35,000 net new jobs.
  • Launched and commenced implementing a new strategy for the financial services sector, aimed at creating 10,000 net new jobs.

Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD said: "Action Plan for Jobs continues to be the driving force behind our commitment to bring our country back to full employment by creating a sustainable export-led economy.  It has proven itself effective in delivering our targets and our targets continue to be ambitious.  In the coming months, we will deliver one year early on our target of adding 100,000 jobs.  By next year, our plan will see more Irish people returning to work in this country than leaving.  By 2018, we will have replaced every job lost by the previous Government with more, sustainable jobs and by 2019 there will be more people working in this country than ever before."

Tánaiste, Joan Burton TD said: "As part of the Action Plan, I expect that the first referrals under JobPath, a new employment initiative by my Department, will begin in July with a very ambitious target - to help 115,000 long-term unemployed jobseekers return to work. Two organisations - Turas Nua and Seetec - will provide additional employment services to augment – not replace – the Department's own employment services. Between them, the two organisations will provide 1,000 additional staff in roughly 100 outlets across the country to assist the long-term unemployed in finding suitable employment and training options. JobPath will help us increase the momentum made to date as we aim for full employment by 2018."

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said: “At the very heart of our jobs plan is creating a powerful engine of Irish business, alongside the strong multinational sector we have built up. Through the Action Plan for Jobs we have put in place a range of measures to support the Irish businesses who can turn into the global success stories of the future, and today’s announcement that Irish companies delivered all-time record exports in 2014 is a huge boost. These exports directly supported 8,500 extra jobs created in these companies last year. This does not happen automatically, but if we implement the right policies we can improve on this in future years as part of our drive towards sustainable full employment by 2018”.

Minister of State for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD said: “As the economy continues to improve, we are also striving to improve the living standards of all our people.  No one wants to see a recovery characterised by low pay.” “To safeguard a recovery that is fair and benefits everyone, in the APJ I am concentrating on ensuring that work always pays through the Low Pay Commission and tackling precarious employment.  We are also supporting small and medium sized businesses by ensuring they can access the right Government supports and the finance they need to succeed and grow.”

Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD said: "Skills and Innovation are critical to Ireland's success in overseas markets and today's export figures from Enterprise Ireland demonstrate the high return from our investment in these key areas, keeping Ireland strong on international markets. This Government will continue to focus on developing  world-class talents through important initiatives such as the ICT Action Plan and the new model of apprenticeship.  I welcome the steady jobs growth that all regions in the country are seeing showing that the Action Plan for Jobs plan is working and will deliver on our commitment for full employment by 2018. I would like to congratulate researchers and industry in Ireland who have won over €97 million in competitive funding in the first 9 months of 2014 from Horizon 2020, the nearly €80 billion EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. I am confident that based on the pipeline of activity we will surpass our APJ 2014 target of €100 million for the first year of the Programme. However, I would encourage more industry, including innovative SMEs, to apply as there are many close-to-market opportunities to exploit and Enterprise Ireland’s Horizon 2020 industry experts are available to advise and support industry on the programme, its opportunities and how to apply."

CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Julie Sinnamon said: “Record exports of €18.6bn were achieved by Irish exporters – representing an increase of almost 10% over 2013 figures. Significantly, growth was recorded across all sectors and in all international markets. These results are reflected in the record jobs performance by Enterprise Ireland clients in 2014 where the agency’s clients recorded the highest net job gains in the history of the agency and further validate Enterprise Ireland’s investment in indigenous industry”.

Download the Action Plan for Jobs 2015 - First Progress Report


For further information:

Press Office,
Department of Jobs,
Enterprise and Innovation

 +353 1 6312200

Government Press Office

 +353 1 619 4051
 +353 87 253 1675

Notes to Editors

1. Enterprise Ireland export results

Exports now account for 51% of total sales by companies supported byEnterprise Ireland, compared with 42% in 2004.

Total exports by Enterprise Ireland clients have increased steadily from €8.5billion in 2004 to €18.6billion in 2014. We are on course to hit target of €22billion in 2016.

Greatest wins came from the Software sector with exports up by 19%, followed by the Construction and Life Sciences manufacturing sectors*.

Demand for Irish exports showed greatest growth in the Latin America and Asia Pacific regions - up 42% and 25% respectively – while demand for Irish goods in the UK grew by 9% to a record €6.8bn.

Annual Business Review (ABR): breakdown by sector and geographical market

Sectors of significant growth * 

SectorExports - 2013 €mExports - 2014 €m% Change - 2013/2014 €m
Software & Public Procurement€1,093€1,305€212+19%
Construction & Consumer€2,063€2,349€286+14%
Life Sciences, Engineering, Paper Print & Packaging, Electronics & Cleantech€2,714€3,007€293


Geographical markets showing significant growth in demand for Irish exports

Region2013 - (€m)2014 - (€m)% Change - 2013/2014
Latin America  159  22442%
Asia Pacific1,121 1,40625%
UK6,269 6,815 9%
2. Action Plan for Jobs 13th progress report

This is the 13th report from the Monitoring Committee established by Government to monitor and drive implementation of the measures contained in the Action Plan for Jobs. It outlines progress made on measures due for completion in the first quarter of 2015. The Monitoring Committee comprises representatives of the Department of the Taoiseach, the Office of the Tánaiste, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The high-level goal of the Action Plan for Jobs, first introduced in 2012, is to create the environment where the number of people at work will have increased by 100,000 by 2016 (from 2012 base).  It also contributes to the medium-term goal of having 2.1 million people in employment by 2018.

The Government published the fourth in its multi-annual Action Plan for Jobs series in January this year. This Plan, which contains 382 actions to be implemented in 2015 by all 16 Government Departments and by 46 agencies under the remit of these Departments, will build on the progress made since 2012 to improve supports for job-creating businesses and remove the barriers to employment creation across the economy. These actions are additional to the over 900 actions already implemented under Action Plan for Jobs 2012, 2013 and 2014 cumulatively, and reported on by the Monitoring Committee in its previous quarterly reports (see www.actionplanforjobs.ie).

The latest official statistics on employment and unemployment in Ireland (from CSO QNHS Quarter 4 2014) show that total employment increased by 29,100 in 2014 bringing total employment to 1.938 million (seasonally adjusted 1.927 million).  There was an increase in full time employment of 39,600 in the year and a decrease in part-time employment of 10,500.  This points to a significant strengthening of the labour market and increased confidence on the part of employers in their recruitment. Over the period since the launch of the Action Plan for Jobs at the beginning of 2012, 90,000 net additional jobs have been created in the Irish economy. The rate of unemployment (using the CSO Standardised Unemployment Rate) was 10.0% in March 2015, down from a high of 15.1% in February 2012.

Actions due in Quarter 1

In the first quarter of 2015, Departments and agencies were to deliver 113 measures relating to 85 of the Action Plan’s 382 actions. 101 of the measures due in Quarter 1 of 2015 have been delivered, giving a completion rate of 89%.

In delivering 101 first quarter measures under the Plan, the Government has, for example:

As part of Disruptive Reform on National Talent Drive

  • Progressed the development of a new model of apprenticeship training in Ireland, in partnership with industry, through a Call for proposals from industry and education providers – proposals will now be evaluated and recommendations made to the Minister for Education and Skills.
  • Completed the Call for Proposals under Springboard 2015 and commenced evaluation of the proposals under this programme as well as finalising programme design with the ICT sector to train 240 trainees across four Skillnets networks, the delivery of which is now being rolled out.
  • Provided additional Employment Permits in areas of critical skills needs, including ICT skills. The total number of permits issued to end Q1 2015 (1,323) shows a 19% increase over the same quarter in 2014 (1,104). The total number of ICT permits issued to end Q1 2015 was 807 compared to 472 for Q1 2014, which represents a 71% increase over last year.  In all, 61% of the total permits issued in Q1 2015 were in respect of ICT professionals and can be attributed to the success of the employment permits system in helping to fill key ICT shortages in the Irish labour market.

As part of Disruptive Reform on Delivering Regional Potential

  • Committed to the completion of Regional Enterprise Strategies (or Regional Action Plans for Jobs) for each of 8 regions. Regional strategies, which will be based on the strengths and enterprise assets of each region, will be completed for six regions by mid-2015. The remaining strategies (for Dublin and Mid-East) will be completed in the second half of the year.
  • In the context of the Regional Enterprise Strategies under development, announced a €150 million investment, over 5 years, through IDA Ireland, to support the development of property solutions at regional level, to support the achievement of targets set out in IDA Ireland’s new strategy.
  • In the context of the Regional Enterprise Strategies under development, announced investment of up to €100 million, over 5 years, through Enterprise Ireland, to support the development of local and microenterprises and SMEs through targeted initiatives at regional level.

As part of Disruptive Reform in the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland

  • Launched the first set of lending products under the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland making available €400 million in lending for SMEs through agreements signed with AIB and Bank of Ireland.  First loans have been available since 9 March 2015.

As part of Disruptive Reform on National Health Innovation Hub

  • A call for proposals to host the National HIH closed on the 15th of April. An independent panel is being appointed to review the applications received and a final decision on the successful host for the National Health Innovation Hub is on schedule for Q3.

As part of Disruptive Reform on Big Data

  • Progressed a number of measures to strengthen the resources of the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) including the decision to establish a Dublin office for the OPPC as well as establishing an Inter-Departmental Committee to ensure a coordinated approach across Government to data protection issues and the establishment of a forum for dialogue with industry and civil society on these issues.

As part of Disruptive Reform Local Enterprise Offices

  • Put in place across each of the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) a Local Enterprise Development Plan setting out specific targets for business start-up levels, business expansions, jobs created and jobs sustained and initiatives to support enterprise and job creation in each area.
  • Strengthened the resources of individual LEOs through a graduate placement programme providing increased capacity to strengthen customer service and delivery of local enterprise plan targets and to give the graduates an opportunity to gain valuable, hands-on experience in the area of enterprise development.
  • Commenced preparations for the 2015 Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition building on the success of the 2014 competition and drawing lessons from an evaluation of the impacts and outcomes of that competition.

And more broadly, in Q1 Government has for example:

  • Announced a number of enhancements to the Micro-enterprise Loan Fund through Microfinance Ireland (MFI) including removing the requirement onmicro-enterprises to have a bank refusal before applying for an MFI loan, allowing the Board of MFI greater flexibility to adapt to market changes, introducing an automatic referral system to MFI when banks decline loans to micro-enterprises and developing a renewed and expanded marketing and communications strategy. The enhancements are made on foot of a review of MFI which was completed in Q1.
  • Increased the number of places for young people through JobsPlus (financial incentive to employers to recruit from the Live Register) through a dedicated JobsPlus Youth scheme. By reducing the qualifying period of unemployment for persons under 25 from 12 months to 4 months, support will be provided for an additional 1,500 young people through JobsPlus Youth in the first year of its implementation.
  • Published a new 5 year strategy by IDA Ireland setting out challenging goals for foreign direct investment building on the existing strong base of FDI in the country. The strategy sets out actions that will be taken to deliver a total of 80,000 gross new jobs in the economy by 2019 and a net increase in employment by IDA supported companies of 35,000 over the period.
  • Supported a further cohort of new food entrepreneurs under Food Works 3, promoting market outlets for food start-up companies. Food Works 3 is
    supporting 18 projects from over 125 applications. Through the Food Academy initiative, support is being provided to an additional 29 companies to develop routes to market based on a partnership with the retail sector.
  • Launched Calls through a number of programmes supporting research and innovation across all sectors of the Irish economy including the 2015
    Irish Research Council (IRC) Call under its Enterprise Partnership Scheme.
  • Established a network of the Enterprise Ireland supported Technology Gateways across the Institute of Technolgy (IoT) sector to ensure the
    easy identification and maximum utilisation of the expertise within each of the Gateways.
  • Established an expert group to examine and report on recommendations to increase foreign and domestic investment in Ireland’s film and TV sound
    stage studio infrastructure in the face of growing demand for audiovisual content across multiple platforms. The expert group has commenced deliberations and is likely to produce a proposal for Government consideration in the coming months.
  • Launched a Strategy for the International Financial Services Sector setting out actions to create a net additional 10,000 jobs in the sector nationally by 2020. The Strategy includes actions to enhance the competitiveness of the Irish IFS sector including in the areas of skills, innovation, physical infrastructure, and regulation and actions to leverage Ireland’s ICT strengths to become a global leader in “fintech”.
  • In the context of 2015 Year of Design (ID 2015), supported a range of design-led initiatives across the regions through a Design Innovation Fund exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design and designers through events and activities. The first call has led to over 120 projects being allocated funding and a second call is now underway.