There has never been a better time for employers to establish a base in the Midlands – or for employees to progress their career here.
A cluster of dynamic and growing multinationals, as well as pockets of smaller, indigenous companies, are offering competitive salaries and exciting career progression within a region that is so easily accessed by the entire country. The reason Collins McNicholas carried out the Midlands Skills Survey was to give employers — and potential employers — in the region a full understanding of the types of skills available in the Midlands, as well as an understanding of the employment landscape.
Our survey provides an insight into the types of commuting patterns that are undertaken in the region, the age profile of those working here, their education and experience level and the types of industries in which they are employed. It also provided us with an insight into their outlook for the future, which we are delighted, yet not surprised, to see is extremely positive. It was also to show those who are considering locating, or progressing their career, in the Midlands the vast range of companies that are based here and the diversity of roles and career progression available.
“88% of respondents said they were confident that the Midlands would offer opportunities for graduates to take up employment in the future.”
Within 25 minutes of Athlone, there is an extensive supply of talent currently working in various sectors including medtech, pharma and biopharma, ICT and shared services – with our survey showing that 72% of respondents have four years or more industry experience. As well as having experience, our survey shows that these workers are also highly educated. Almost three quarters of all those who responded hold an honours degree or above while almost 90% are qualified to ordinary degree level or above. With Athlone Institute of Technologya strong influence on the region, working closely with industry to provide the skills needed, it was no surprise that 88% of respondents said they were confident that the Midlands would offer opportunities for graduates to take up employment in the future.
Regional Manager, Midlands, IDA
IDA Ireland’s remit is to win Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for Ireland and to support the retention, development and growth of the existing client base.
For its part, the Midlands region has been successful over a number of years in mobilising FDI, with employment levels in IDA client companies increasing every year since 2011; there are now 42 IDA-supported companies in the Midlands, employing 5,720 people at the end of 2018. This figure represents a 14% increase on 2017. The enterprise base in the region is thriving, dynamic and innovative, with an impressive range of companies across all industry sectors.
Particular strengths lie in life sciences, technology, global business services, international financial services and engineering. Significant ‘new name’ investments in recent years include Aerie Pharmaceutical, Neueda Technologies (both based in Athlone), SkOUT Secure Intelligence and Greenfield Global in Portlaoise and Red Seal Cups in Longford. The largest new name project has been Centre Parcs, which is a €233m development in Ballymahon, Co. Longford that will see 1,000 people employed when fully operational.
The existing FDI base of companies continues to perform well in terms of their operational sustainability, job retention and ongoing transformation. Companies benefit from the deep pool of talent in the area, but many have an ongoing need for suitably qualified and experienced staff. It is known that a significant number of people commute out of the region for work each day; it is therefore hoped that this skills survey will help companies recognise that the talent exists in their region, and demonstrate for job seekers that there are many exciting opportunities available in the Midlands.
Read the stories from people working in the Midlands:
I am a Dubliner, living in Leitrim and working in Longford – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. After attaining my PhD in Chemistry from Maynooth University, I started my career with a multinational company based in Blanchardstown, Dublin. Shortly after, a career opportunity came up with Abbott, so my wife and I decided to make the move from Dublin to the North West.
We bought a house in Leitrim village, and I happily commuted the 50 minutes to Sligo for eight years. At this point, the role of Operations Manager was advertised in our diagnostics division, in Longford and I was immediately interested. It was a great opportunity for a career advancement with the added benefit of a shorter commute.
Abbott is committed to nurturing and developing talent, and in 2011, I was fortunate to be given the chance to assume a Site Director role at one of our UK locations. My wife and I, along with our then young children, made the move to Kent, and lived there for about three and a half years. Personally, it was a fantastic experience and provided me with an opportunity to lead a site and develop new skills on my career journey.
Renew Health opened in the Midlands in 2014 with four people and a grand plan to build a healthcare company with a difference. Backed by two serial entrepreneurs and philanthropists, the business was keen to establish itself in Ireland. Since 2014, the business has grown to now have 41 people on site in Athlone, managing a further 67 staff internationally, with plans to double in size again by 2022, with over 10 products in our portfolio.
The decision to locate in the Midlands goes back to 2013. One of the reasons we established here was because of the strong pharma and medtech heritage in the Midlands. There was a strong pool of talent in the region, given the number of companies operating here. I was recruited — through Collins McNicholas, in fact — shortly afterwards and, with three other senior team members, we set up the facility in Garrycastle. The four of us, all of which are still with the business, started to build our footprint in the Midlands and haven’t looked back since.
Neueda is at the cutting edge of software solutions. At our base in Athlone, we are developing high-level software projects for clients around the world. This advanced work is a significant draw when attracting top talent. Neueda is a global company and established a base in Athlone at the end of 2017. I am from Mayo originally but was working with Ericsson in Athlone since 1996. I joined Neueda when they opened their office in Athlone.
Athlone’s business community is very supportive and was extremely helpful to us when setting up. Connections with Athlone IT are also very important; they come to talk to us to see if what they are doing is meeting industry needs. Also, Athlone has the second highest density of software developers in Europe so the critical mass has been established here.
During year one, 2018, we grew to 100 people so it was really hectic in terms of recruitment. We hired staff locally, from across Ireland, the EU and the world. We were a new company and not a huge multinational so it was harder to attract staff. It was a tough year, but in the end, even as a smaller company, we were able to find the talent in the Midlands, with the right set of skills and attitudes to fit with our company.
There were several reasons that Athlone was chosen when the NPD Group set up in Ireland in early 2010. These included the deep talent pool of well-educated people and multilingual skills in the Midlands region, in addition to having Athlone IT on our doorstep and the assistance of the IDA.
The NPD Group is a global market information company, headquartered in Port Washington, New York. The NPD Group combines data, industry expertise, and prescriptive analytics to help us grow our client businesses while addressing the consumers’ needs.
We started in Athlone with just six people and data classification as our core function. We now have 150 employees and multiple functions such as retailer engagement, data collection, data quality management, process control and areas of IT.
There are 42 IDA-supported companies across the Midlands region, including KCI, NPD, Neuda Technologies, Teleflex and Renew Health. One of the strong assets in the Midlands is our multilingual talent, which has helped us attract many of these multinationals to locate in the region. Our survey reflects that; a sample of the languages spoken by respondents include Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Russian, Polish and Italian.
“70% of those who completed the survey said they had received an increase in salary within the last 12 months and an impressive 93% of respondents would recommend working in the Midlands.”
Through this survey, we also wanted to gain an insight into the lives of the professionals working in the Midlands. The survey showed that some 70% of respondents received an increase in salary within the last 12 months and an impressive 93% of respondents would recommend working in the Midlands. The overall results from the survey show clearly the availability of highly-educated and deeply experienced talent within the Midlands region to service the growing companies who are actively recruiting within the region.
Download our survey now to see the full insights gained
Associate Director | Leinster