Dublin's economy goes from strength to strength and businesses continue to flock to the capital. In the second of two features Paul Cotter, director of Joslin Rowe in Dublin, assesses the future of Ireland's capital....

Dublin is one of the leading investment success stories of recent times. Crumbling warehouses are being transformed into hotels, and the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in the city centre is home to more than 400 international institutions. The surge in investment and jobs has been accompanied by a massive rise in tourism, with more three million visitors to the capital last year alone.

Irish Corporation Tax is heading towards 10%, compared with 30% in the UK and 45% in Germany. This is just one factor that has made Dublin an attractive European base for major companies.

Set-up costs and on-going administration are considerably cheaper in Dublin than elsewhere, and the standards of the labour force are rising, in spite of growing shortages. The "user-friendly" regulatory regime is another strong reason to set up in Dublin.

Now that Ireland has opened its doors to the larger audience and removed the need to be inside the IFSC in order to receive preferential tax treatment, the Irish insurance sector is experiencing an increase in the number of companies moving to Dublin. It is estimated that the insurance industry is growing by an average of 6.5% each year.

Staffing concerns
As the marketplace becomes more competitive, so does the fight for the best staff. Salaries have increased significantly recently, and while there is a growing trend towards longer hours and contract work, most market leaders offer perks, such as flexitime, study packages, health insurance, pensions, profit shares and company cars.

Companies are also more flexible in their approach to recruitment now. For example, when looking to fill a role that normally requires several years' experience, employers are now having to consider more trainees or mature people, or individuals who have the potential to be cross-trained, even though such people generally cost much more.

Holding on to good staff is crucial to employers in Dublin, and investment in training has doubled over the past decade, 3% of payroll is spent on training. Employers have realised the benefits of such investment in terms of greater productivity, improved competitiveness and greater staff retention.

No one can argue with the fact that Dublin offers a very high quality of life. While working hours tend to be similar to those in London, and accommodation is not cheap, salaries are high and rising, there is plenty

to see and do for entertainment, and it is easy to reach most places in the centre on foot, thereby cutting out the hassles of commuting.

It is hard to know what the future will hold for Ireland's financial services industry, but the outlook is certainly positive.

There is no end in sight to the number of firms that will set up a base in Dublin and there are just not enough people to fill the available jobs.