*Check against delivery*
Good afternoon everyone.
As Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I am delighted to be here today to welcome this exciting project and the quality jobs which it is bringing to Ireland.
These high skilled, high quality knowledge-based jobs are exactly what we are seeking to attract.
The Computer-Aided Design work that you perform in Autodesk is at the cutting edge of technology, as you constantly push the boundaries out in terms of innovation.
I would like to highlight how the Government has been quietly helping to provide the right conditions here for exciting companies like yours. We have been working hard to make Ireland an attractive and competitive location to do business, with a solid and predictable legal and regulatory system, involving a minimum of administrative hurdles and our work is paying off.
We have been attracting the best quality FDI, as noted by IBM’s Global Locations Trends Report. This ranked Ireland first for the quality of FDI for the sixth year in a row, highlighting our continued ability to attract high-value investment projects in key sectors such as yours in ICT.
Education has been absolutely key, in terms of inward investment. Ireland places a heavy emphasis on education and ensuring that we produce the right calibre of graduates, especially in ICT, who can meet the needs of 21st century knowledge-based businesses like yours.
In cases where employers are unable to fill critical high-skilled vacancies easily, my Department has a flexible Employment Permit regime in place, which enables companies to get the right talent which they need, without delay.
All of this has resulted in Ireland now being home to:
- All of the top 10 ‘Born on the Internet’ companies;
- 9 of the top 10 global software companies;
- 7 of the top 10 industrial automation companies.
In tandem with the Government’s ICT Skills Action Plans, we launched a new initiative last year called Tech/Life Ireland, which is being delivered in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the tech industry.
This investment is a focused international marketing initiative to attract talented and experienced tech experts to Ireland and to promote top tech career opportunities here. It will add to the overall diversity, knowledge base and experience in Ireland’s ICT workforce.
Ireland now has world class expertise in ICT with both world-leading companies and niche players in those sectors located here. The success of our ICT sector has been a lynchpin of our economic transformation over recent years. Companies like yours which have decided to invest and create quality jobs here, have brought renowned expertise and capital investment and this has facilitated synergies with the wider sector, to the mutual benefit of all companies.
All this quality economic activity had led to the current situation whereby Ireland’s headline economic figures are good, in fact they are very good indeed. We’ve now had several years of sustained economic and employment growth. Just last week, the European Commission reported that Ireland’s economy grew by three time the EU average last year. Unemployment is down from a high of over 15% at the height of the recent recession, to just over 6%, and still falling. Inflation has been negligible for all the years of our recovery, so costs have been held well in check.
Tax receipts are very buoyant. Consumer spending and construction are recovering well. Apart from the greater Dublin area, great strides have been made in rejuvenating many of our Regional Centres, to help ensure more balanced development around the country.
On the wider world stage, as you know, we are now going through a period of uncertainty. The Brexit process has huge implication for Ireland. As a Government, we have plans in place to mitigate its impact and, also, to seize opportunities which may arise. A whole series of initiatives are underway by the relevant arms of the Irish administration.
Ireland remains a committed member of the EU, benefitting from the many advantages that EU membership brings, including bilateral trade agreements with many countries, providing market access opportunities.
Ireland will continue to have access to a Single Market of 27 Members with 450 million people. We will seek to adapt to the changed circumstances, as we have done so often, and so well, in past years.
But back to today. I would like to thank you for your commitment to Ireland and I am sure your investment here will prove very beneficial both to your company and to Ireland Inc. in the years ahead.
I therefore wish you every success in your new Docklands home where you will be in such good company, with other international tech trailblazers nearby.