What's the next step for Intel in Ireland?

Up to 400 Irish jobs are under threat, but the outlook for the firm's operations in Ireland is less bleak than that figure suggests

Intel began operations in Ireland back in 1989 and have invested heavily in their Leixlip campus ever since. The company has a workforce of 100,000 around the world, with 5,500 employees here in Ireland; 4,500 in Leixlip and the remainder based in both Cork and Shannon.

There has been a lot of focus on the company in the last week or so due to the major restructuring announcement which followed a poor earnings report. The company will aim to reduce its workforce by 11% by the middle of this year; that’s around 12,000 jobs.  It is thought that between 350 and 400 Irish employees may be affected.

CEO, Brian Krzanich, has said this is part of a process in “transforming Intel from a PC company to a company that powers the Cloud and billions of smart, connected devices”.

This move comes just two years after Intel gave a progress update on their $5 billion upgrade of the Leixlip campus. This was the largest private investment in the history of the Irish state and all in all, the company has invested more than $12.5 billion in transforming a 360 acre stud farm into an enormous manufacturing plant.  

With this level of investment, it’s hard to see the current wave of job losses impacting the output and future of the plant.

While any job loss is a blow, it’s worth keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Intel is a company that is renowned for their microprocessors and the impact they have on the computer market in general; the sales of which are both on the decrease. Rather than allowing the company to sink, they are opting to change gear and move towards data centres, server markets and 5G connectivity.

This is not the first time the company has sought to make cut backs either. Back in 2001 the company offered 170 voluntary redundancies following a global decline in demand for computer chips. A further 294 compulsory redundancies were made at Leixlip, again as a result in a slump in demand for its technologies.  

Again in 2011, 100 voluntary redundancies took place following the closure of its “Fab 10” plant.  

In an email to staff last week, Eamonn Sinnott, Intel Ireland manager, said employees would be notified "within 72 hours of 4 May" if they were set to lose their jobs. Many of the products manufactured at Intel’s Leixlip plant are aimed at the cloud and data centres, which will help to future proof the Irish arm of the company's operations.

This has the potential to be good news for Ireland. How so? Well, where’s better for data centres than Ireland?

Not that long ago Facebook announced the creation of 2,000 construction jobs whilst they build their newest data centre in Meath. Upon completion, 150 people will work there full time.

Our climate suits the requirements for data centres. The average temperatures here in Ireland reduce the need for mechanical refrigeration to cool any data hub. This means companies can save a huge amount of money on energy costs.