Bid to tempt home the foreign workers who fed Celtic Tiger
By John Walshe
Wednesday January 30 2008
The immigrants who have been fuelling Ireland's booming economy in recent years are being wooed with promises of thousands of jobs in eastern and northern Europe.
For the first time, 18 countries will take stands at the annual Opportunities Exhibition, many of them highlighting vacancies in construction, information technology, call centres, engineering and other areas.
Poles, who make up the biggest minority in Ireland, are being singled out by five agencies from their own country who want many of them to bring their skills back home.
More than 260,000 PPS numbers were issued to Poles between May 2004 and December 2007, although not all who obtained them are still living or working here.
The next biggest minority are Lithuanians, who obtained 56,842 PPS numbers, followed by people from the UK, who obtained nearly 40,000 PPS numbers.
Unemployment rates are tumbling in several eastern European countries, many of whom have huge construction projects for which they cannot get skilled workers.
Salaries are still lower than in Ireland but in Poland, for instance, salaries in the construction sector have doubled in the past few years.
The main new EU member states will be represented at the FAS Opportunities fair in Croke Park from February 29 to March 3, as will countries such as Norway and Sweden, who will be recruiting across a wide range of occupations.
Long-standing EU members such as France and Italy will be seeking to place 'surplus' workers in this country. Others will be both looking to place workers here and bring other specialist staff home.
Kevin Quinn, manager of international services with FAS, said their presence was an indication of increasing mobility and also reflected the changing economic fortunes in some countries.
He stressed that not all the overseas participants, who are part of the European Employment Services network (EURES), would be encouraging people to return home.
For instance, the Romanian EURES advisers would be available at the exhibition to give information about employment rights in Ireland to many of the 14,500 Romanians who obtained PPS numbers here last year.
Referring to Poland, he said that while five regions were seeking staff, people in other regions were anxious to get work in Ireland. “Ireland is still a very attractive place for many overseas workers,” he said.
Among those that will be represented at the exhibition, which is sponsored by the Irish Independent will be:
– Estonia, where the unemployment rate has plummeted to 2pc, and which is seeking IT, sales and marketing staff;
– The Czech Republic, which is seeking staff for call centres and teachers;
– Norway, which is looking for all types of workers;
– Sweden, which is seeking IT specialists but has a surplus of graduates in other disciplines;
– Italy, which has a 'surplus' of medical staff, nurses, doctors and physiotherapists;
– Hungary, which is seeking to place workers in jobs in Ireland, particularly in the horticulture and agriculture sectors.
Irish people interested in working abroad will be able to get information from EURES advisers on the employment situation and rights and entitlements in different countries.
FAS labour market specialist Brian McCormick said we are entering a time of an expected increase in unemployment and a decrease in new jobs in Ireland.
– John Walshe Education Editor
Roar of the other Tigers