Pramerica Systems is committed to Ireland and is still hiring, according to executives visiting its Donegal offices yesterday. The company employs 700 people in Letterkenny and is marking 10 years in Ireland at a celebration in the town this week.
Pramerica is the contact centre and software development division of US-based Prudential Financial, providing services and support for its operations across Europe, Asia and the Americas.
According to John Fox, vice president of the service management group at Prudential Financial, the company initially chose Ireland because of its low costs and he still sees the country as competitive.
“We don’t see that we’ve lost the competitive edge today,” he said. “If we were to go by person-to-person costs you might find lower costs elsewhere but what we find here is much higher productivity. People here are very smart and very ambitious.”
Despite being based in Letterkenny, 20 per cent of the company’s staff do not work there, with many working remotely from places like Belfast and Dublin. This is part of the firm’s “alternative work arrangements” programme, which Mr Fox said is extremely successful. “The company as a whole have embraced it,” he said. “People manage their lives better and are far more productive as a result.”
However, the company itself has solid ties to the local community and has built a strong working relationship with both Letterkenny IT (LKIT) and training agency Fás since its arrival 10 years ago.
“We have an internship scheme with LKIT so students can come here and learn hands on the work that’s involved,” said Pramerica executive Barbara Koster. “It gives them some real life experience of how a company works and we’ve had that in place from the very, very beginning.”
She said Pramerica also gives input to new LKIT and Fás programmes to ensure they match up to industry needs. In one instance they helped develop a Fás course on a subject that was no longer being taught in Ireland. This allowed them to hire locally as opposed to looking abroad.
The company also has a training scheme with LKIT which allows its call centre staff to learn software development around their job, eventually allowing them to move to a new job in the company. Despite the recession it is still hiring staff in both its development and call centre divisions.