The economy in Ireland is booming with record numbers of people at work. The unemployment rate stands at 4.5%, which is expected to fall to 3% over the next two years. Thirty percent of the population live in Dublin (1,056,000) and this is where most of the growth in the Irish economy will be
concentrated. Economic growth has been more than 8% each year for the last five years and projected growth for 2000 is set to stand at 10%.

With this expansion, it is conservatively estimated that 100,000 people will need to come to Ireland over the next three to five years to meet the demands of the job market. Around 20% of vacancies in Dublin are being filled by returning Irish emigrants and foreign workers, compared with less than 5% three years ago. The Irish government is using FÁS (the Irish Training & Employment Authority), which has been spearheading an international recruitment campaign, known as Jobs Ireland, specifically targeting Irish expatriates and foreign workers.

Looking overseas

Recruiters are likewise looking overseas through targeted advertising and marketing initiatives to fill the ever-increasing number of vacancies within the financial sector. And the number of young foreigners coming to Dublin to work is on the up, as the city becomes more cosmopolitan. The Irish
capital has one of the youngest population profiles of any European city, with around 50% of the population aged under 30.

The insurance market is divided into two areas: the domestic – general and life companies that compete for Irish domiciled business, and those that operate as licensed within the International Finance Services Centre (IFSC). The IFSC was established in 1987, offering a range of tax and other incentives approved by the EU. The four principal areas within the IFSC are banking and bank asset finance, collective funds management, insurance and treasury.

The insurance sector allows the following types of companies to operate: insurance companies, captive insurance managers, captive insurance companies, reinsurance companies, agency reinsurance companies, insurance broking companies and life assurance companies. The main difference between the two areas is that IFSC companies focus on international business.

The success of the IFSC is so great that Dublin now proudly stands as the second largest funds administration and custody centre in the world. The value of these funds is in excess of v150bn (£89.5bn).

While insurance is the smallest sector in the IFSC, it is seen as an area of vast potential growth. The number of companies administering their portfolio from Dublin is constantly increasing.

The acute skill shortages have led many companies to use recruiters to campaign overseas in a bid to find the right talent. This is a far cry from the situation a decade ago, when the city was wracked by unemployment the young emigrated in their thousands. Now the Irish market wants them to return, along with other foreign nationals with the skills that are now so in demand.