Business leaders more optimistic about Irish economy

A survey of nearly 500 executives has found that business leaders are overwhelmingly more positives about the economy than this time last year.

Despite the positive sentiment expressed by the 472 Irish senior executives surveyed there was an admission by more than half that the loss of young talent through emigration was having a negative effect on their businesses.

Ruth Curran of MERC Partners, who commissioned Amárach Research to carry out the survey, said that respondents expected the level of emigration to continue to grow.

“Perhaps surprisingly, over half (51%) said it has impacted negatively, with one in eight saying that the impact had been significant.

“The optimism revealed for the economy generally was not in evidence when respondents were asked about the likely future impact of emigration. Some 27% expect the rate to increase, while nearly half (47%) believe it will remain the same over the next three years. Only 27% believe it will decline,” she said.

There are grounds for optimism that businesses might be able to play a role in stemming the tide of emigration with almost half of those surveyed believing that by this time in 2014 their company will employ more people, and only 20% foresee a fall in the number of employees in their companies.

With competition for certain skills growing there is no guarantee that new hires will come from Ireland.

The very open nature of the economy and the importance of internationally mobile staff were highlighted by the finding that 40% of relevant companies had to go abroad to find key staff. The skills deemed to be lacking most in Ireland were leadership; change management and IT.

Ms Curran said that while there was a strong sense of optimism amongst respondents about the economy generally, that tended to be somewhat muted but still evident when commenting on their own organisations.

“The big test in 2014 will be whether this general feel-good factor can be translated into increased sales and employment growth. The signs are good but the outcomes are not a foregone conclusion.”


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