The Global Irish Economic Forum opens in Dublin Castle this morning. Some 270 members of the forum from 40 countries will meet Irish-based business and political leaders to discuss policy initiatives aimed at boosting job numbers.
Sean O'Driscoll, chief executive of Glen Dimplex, says the focus on this year's Forum is jobs. When the first Forum was held in 2009, he says it was held against the backdrop of an economic crisis. Today the environment is very different, with the Irish economy now in recovery mode and what is needed now is more employment - and across every sector of the economy. Mr O'Driscoll is chairing a session about compeititiveness in manufacturing and retail. He says that up to this point, the focus of competitiveness has been on costs but the issue covers a lot more. The shortage of skills in key areas has to be explored - and addressed - he states, adding that too many universities are producing graduates for whom there is no market. He also says the Forum is not just a talking shop.
Malachy McAllister, from HSBC, says that Ireland needs funding for key infrastructure projects, which will create employment. While the country's reputation has improved on international markets, he says that the country must focus on what state assets are strategic for its future growth.
Catherine Toolan of food services company Aramark says that she will focus on building the already strong reputation of the Irish food and drinks industry at this year's Forum. She says that the networking is very important, adding that she finds more SMEs are calling the bigger companies for advice and help. That is the power of networking and would not happen without the Forum, she states.