Tens of thousands of jobs coming to Ireland by 2020 – but how will we fill them?

28 Apr 2015

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has been telling us in his Spring Statement that the jobs lost in Ireland during the recession will be totally recovered by 2018.

Even in the short-term, employment will pass the 2m mark next year, with emigration finally being overtaken by immigration from 2017 onwards, according to the Government’s Spring Statement.

“The young people who have left are coming back and will continue to do so,” said Minister Noonan, not noting that many of those “young people” are far older now.

Indeed, if emigration can be pencilled in as an epidemic from, say, 2008, than that will be 10 years working elsewhere for many.

And before people talk of a lack of jobs for those who have left, we are currently engrossed in a labour shortage for some of the most innovative areas of industry here.

The fault is not with those who left, it’s the creation – or lack thereof – of an environment that left our residents unprepared and under-skilled for our now-booming tech scene.

Of course there is something else to consider when looking at Minister Noonan’s comments about “outward migration” and “inward migration”.

In Minister Noonan’s statement he references the IDA’s target of 900 new investments by 2019, which would bring in a net total of 35,000 jobs. Enterprise Ireland wants 40,000 new jobs, with the international financial services sector seeking 10,000 by the end of the decade.

The emigration that cost Ireland so much of its young will not fill this surplus were they to return – it is highly unlikely that everyone who left will have the skills to match our boom areas. We will need some pretty effective recruiting from foreign nationals, many beyond the EU’s trade-and-labour friendly borders.

It’s now several months since Ireland changed its rules with regards to attracting people with specific skillsets from outside the EU. And at the turn of the year Canada restructured its rules, creating a fast track for those of a specific skillset to gain employment. Now, if you fit the criteria, you can have your visa processed in under six months.

At the time, we wondered what the comparison was here, considering Canada – and the likes of Israel and the US – are all competing for the workers we want.

Well, first off Ireland does operate a system for targeting those with the right skillset to help fill a gap in our labour pool. So, areas like IT and engineering are sought after. Secondly, processing times have tumbled, fast.

This is necessary and welcome – there should really be no restriction on companies trying to hire the right skills, leaving it up to host states to respond and try fill those gaps indigenously.

So it will be interesting to see if these areas of boom, the ones that will generate all these jobs – be it pharma, med-tech, IT, engineering or whatever – will be employing all those “young people” buying their flight tickets home.

Empty office image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt
By Gordon Hunt

Gordon Hunt joined Silicon Republic in October 2014 as a journalist. He spends most of his time avoiding conversations about music, appreciating even the least creative pun and rueing the day he panicked when meeting Paul McGrath. His favourite thing on the internet is the ‘Random Article’ link on Wikipedia.

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