Some 93% of approximately 200 respondents to a new survey of Irish companies say they intend to expand their businesses over the next year.
In advance of the CEO Forum attendees were asked their views on the future of Ireland’s economy and their overall business sentiment towards jobs and growth.
Findings of the survey, undertaken by Enterprise Ireland and Deloitte, will be presented at this year’s CEO Forum, to be held in Dublin Castle on Thursday October 22.
The event will see over 300 CEOs listen to key note addresses from Tommy Breen, CEO, DCC plc, Ciaran Murray, CEO, ICON plc, & Domhnal Slattery, CEO, Avolon, as well as other speakers and panellists including Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, who will address the conference on the impact of the Action Plan for Jobs.
The CEO Forum survey findings also revealed that 74% of business leaders believe the Central Bank or Irish Government should not intervene to slow Ireland’s strong economic growth rate, with Ireland currently expected to be the fastest growing economy in the European Union according to the European Commission's autumn economic forecast.
Brendan Jennings, Managing Partner, Deloitte said: "Our business leaders are both optimistic of the country’s strong potential for economic growth and of the ability of their firm to match or exceed that level - two-thirds (66%) of the business leaders questioned believe that their business will grow even faster than the Irish economy in the next 12 months.
"A staggering 93% of companies intend to expand their businesses over the next year which will almost certainly translate into jobs as 87% are also planning on increasing their workforce. All of which bodes well for the economy.”
"What a difference a year makes."
Three quarters (77%) of survey participants were CEOs of SME businesses (with less than 250 employees) with the balance being made up of larger company CEOs. Approximately 300 people were asked to participate in the survey, with approximately 200 answering.
A similar survey was conducted 12 months ago in advance of last year’s CEO Forum, in which Irish CEOs cited “access to working capital” as the primary restriction to greater exports, with 35% indicating that this was the primary challenge facing their business.
However, this figure has dropped to 19% in 2015 and “the availability of skills” has surpassed access to capital as the number one concern according to 31% of respondents.
Competitiveness and growing competition are now also seen as key challenges.
The CEO Forum survey also revealed that Irish CEOs rank “honesty” as the number one most important trait for business leaders.
“Honesty” is followed by “a strong work ethic”, “self-confidence” and “loyalty” as the most important traits.
The survey showed that CEOs put “communication skills” ahead of all other attributes including technical skills and creativity.
This potentially reflects a deficit they are experiencing in the current crop of graduates.
Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland said: "The survey results aren’t a major surprise to us in Enterprise Ireland.
"The skills issue is one that is constantly raised by our clients as a key constraint. In response, we have been helping Irish companies develop leadership capability, both of the CEOs and of their wider teams.
"Continuing to win the ‘war for talent’ is a key determinant of success in international markets."