Irish business leaders are positively bullish about what the future holds with 93% of companies stating that they intend to expand their businesses over the next year – according to the results of a new survey undertaken by Enterprise Ireland and Deloitte released today.
In advance of the CEO Forum to be held in Dublin Castle on Thursday October 22nd 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 will be presented at this year’s CEO Forum, the theme of which is “Leadership for Growth”. The event will see over 300 of the country’s leading 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 commented “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…
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.
Irish CEOs place value on “Honesty”
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.
While Irish graduates have put huge effort into boosting their academic skills, when looking for new employees, 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. CEOs were also asked about time management and research skills, but placed less emphasis on these areas.
Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland explained, “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.”
The CEO Forum also encouragingly revealed that because harnessing ideas and innovation from employees is a proven practice in almost every successful company, 97% of Irish CEOs surveyed said that they either had a formal or informal process in place to capitalise on employees’ ideas or intended on introducing one in the near future.