The Minister for Finance has said that forecasts now indicate the country will get back to pre-pandemic levels of employment and broader economic performance by around 2023, but he is increasingly hopeful progress could be quicker.
Paschal Donohoe also said the country has made enormous progress with its economic and public health since March of last year when the pandemic first struck and this is leading to optimism around economic targets.
"Not only am I confident that we will deliver those targets in 2023, I am increasingly hopeful that as we move into the rest of this year and indeed into 2022, for many really important economic indicators that matter so much to our society, I'm increasingly confident that we are going to make even quicker progress towards delivering those targets," Mr Donohoe told a Scale Ireland event.
The minister said his confidence is grounded in the success of the Covid-19 vaccination programme and because the economic supports have been successful in shielding many parts of the domestic economy from the worst economic effects of the pandemic.
"All of those things coming together are leading to an increasing improvement in sentiment regarding our future from an investor point of view and from an employer point of view," he said.
He said this means that Ireland’s economic prospect and performance at the moment are in a far more positive place than we would have hoped would be possible just over a year ago.
Addressing the same event, John Purdy, the co-founder and CEO of Ergo, said accessing talent was among the most significant challenges facing entrepreneurs in Ireland.
"We are all fighting for the same talent pools and we have got to figure out how we can expand that talent pool," he said.
"As we all fight for the same talent the cost of talent rises, the cost of talent rises because the availability of housing is, particularly rental properties, is becoming non-affordable for employees."
He added that we need to see more regional development and as employers we need to open our mind to new ways of working.
Mr Purdy also spoke about the importance of entrepreneurship in education and said there needs to be a big improvement in the inclusion of the subject at syllabus level.
Eileen O'Mara, the Head of EMEA Revenue and Growth at payments company Stripe, told the event that access to new markets and the complexity of regulation while growing internationally remain a consistent issue for many scaling firms.
"The regulatory landscape and policy landscape is a real barrier for start-ups, they don’t have the resources and investment really to lean-into that and that is really critical when you want to scale globally," she said.
Access to capital is also a challenge she said, alluding to a question often asked of the Irish founders of Stripe, John and Patrick Collison, about whether they would be able to start Stripe in Ireland today.
"In general, you would say yes, you should," she said.
"However, we are not really hearing that from the ecosystem – startups and founders are finding it difficult to raise the capital they really need to scale and scale globally."