The Government is strongly committed to supporting the continued growth of the biopharma sector, which supports approximately 50,000 jobs directly and indirectly and contributed more than €1 billion in corporation tax in 2009.
Ireland is recognised worldwide as a major centre of excellence in the pharmaceutical industry and is now emerging as a leading location for biopharmaceuticals with a strong mix of start-ups, high growth small to medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, and large multinationals located here. The industry in Ireland has flourished because of a combination of strengths, including a highly educated, innovative and resourceful labour force, a proven level of manufacturing and compliance experience, our competitive tax offering and world class research landscape. These factors are still very much in place and should be publicised in a positive way whenever Deputies speak about what Ireland can offer foreign direct investment.
The industry has a highly skilled workforce and 46% of the sector's labour force have third level qualifications or higher. Some 25% of all PhD researchers employed in Irish industry are employed in this sector. The Export Group on Future Skills Needs recently made a number of recommendations on skills needs for the sector, including the need to strengthen business skills within the sector and enhancing industry-academia collaboration. Having people with the right skills and competences will be a key component in driving future growth in this sector and underpinning innovation, productivity and competitiveness.
The sciences are at the heart of the biopharma sector and supporting world class research in our academic institutions, together with our company base, is essential to driving a healthy, vibrant industry. A key focus for Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and other relevant stakeholder bodies is the promotion and building of expertise in biological research and development and manufacturing so that Ireland can continue to develop as a globally recognised biopharmaceutical hub.
Previously, the industry in Ireland has been focused on manufacturing, but there is an increasing diversification into more research and development activity and services such as supply chain management and headquarter activities. Given this diversification, continuing to drive integration across our indigenous and multinational company base will support the long-term development and growth of this key sector. The development of a highly integrated sector is a key competitive leverage globally.
Cost competitiveness is also of major importance and the sector and Ireland have already benefited from improvements in our cost competitiveness in the past two years. The national recovery plan sets out specific actions to spur further improvements in competitiveness across all sectors of the economy, including measures to cut costs in energy, waste, transport, broadband infrastructure, professional fees, property and labour. The plan also includes a commitment to the 12.5% corporation tax rate, maintenance of a competitive tax wedge and a clear statement that the top marginal rates will remain unchanged. These measures all contribute to our overall offering in attracting foreign direct investment.