Category: Archive

Business Briefs IDA urges new focus on schools

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Ireland’s third-level education system will play a critical role in ensuring the country’s future competitiveness, according to a top Irish industry official.

Addressing a conference of university rectors in Belfast last week, Frank Ryan, head of personnel at the Industrial Development Agency, said that the agency was increasingly focused on the future development on high-value and knowledge-based industries.

More than 53 percent of overseas electronics companies in Ireland now have high-value functions, such as research and development, marketing, back-office and other activities at their plants, compared to 40 percent five years ago.

Ryan, who is also head of organizational development at the IDA, said it was imperative that universities and other third-level colleges continued their sustained improvement relative to the highest international standards.

Nearly 94 percent of software projects now coming into the Republic have a research-and-development content.

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Ryan added that although much of the Irish economy’s success was as a result of the Republic’s policies in foreign direct investment, it is now time to reappraise the forces underlying the state’s competitiveness.

North minister’s visit

John McFall, M.P., paid his first visit to the U.S. last weekend as Northern Ireland’s new minister for the economy and education. Last Friday in Washington, D.C., McFall joined Rep. James Walsh at the launch of the Walsh visa program under which temporary non-immigrant visas will be provided to immigrants during the next three years for training and employment programs.

On Saturday, McFall was in St. Louis where he met young people taking part in the Business Education Initiative at Lindenwood University. Through the initiative, almost 800 young people from abroad have spent time in the U.S. learning about its culture.

"The spirit of enterprise, of tolerance and the ‘can do’ culture are experiences which our young participants can bring back to Northern Ireland, helping create permanent peace and a stronger economy which we strive for," McFall said.

During his visit to Washington, McFall met U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley to discuss a number of education initiatives aimed at helping school children in Northern Ireland. He also visited the JFK Center for the Performing Arts and met its president, Larry Wilker, to discuss arrangements for next year’s Arts of Ireland Festival to be hosted at the center.

Also in Washington, McFall met representatives of Belfast City Council’s Invest Belfast group, which is in the U.S. to promote Belfast as a place in which to do business.

At the beginning of this week, McFall was in New York.

Networking Society of Boston

The Irish Networking Society of Boston will host a workshop on entitled "Networking-What to Do and How to Do It" on Dec. 1 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Bank Boston Building, 35th Floor 100 Federal St.

Admission is $10, $5 for society members. All are welcome.

The workshop will be followed by a social evening with hors d’oeuvres at Tiernan’s Pub, 99 Broad St.

The Irish Networking Society will hold its annual general meeting on Jan. 5 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., also in the Bank Boston Building. Free admission. Again, all are welcome.

The annual general meeting will be followed by another social evening with hors d’oeuvres at Tiernan’s Pub, For more information, call The Irish Networking Society of Boston at (781) 446-8074 or log onto www.celticweb.com/ins.

Recruitment, training in Ireland

The Celtic Tiger economy is now exhibiting seemingly contradictory stripes. Emigration from Ireland is not only continuing but is increasing, according to recent Central Statistics Office figures. But immigration into Ireland is also increasing. According to FAS, Ireland’s training and employment authority, there is demand for labor throughout the Irish economy, particularly in electronics, software, construction, financial services, tourism and teleservices.

FAS provides a recruitment service for Irish industry at all levels of skills and expertise. Last year, more than 67,000 vacancies were processed by a team of FAS placement specialists located at 57 locations throughout Ireland.

To find out about FAS and its services, log onto www.fas.ie or www.fasjobs-ireland.com.

Looking toward the North

While Ireland grapples with the growing problems of labor shortages and inadequate infrastructure, a business leader in the Republic has suggested that solutions may be available by looking North.

Tom Clarke, president of the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland, said that in tackling the problems of the economy of the Republic, primarily relating to transport and telecommunications infrastructure and also labor shortages, "we have yet to truly realize the potential of an all-Ireland economy."

"For example, should we in the Republic consider investing in Derry Airport to the benefit of the entire Northwest?" he asked.

Clarke said that school-leavers and third-level graduates in Northern Ireland achieve better exam results than their British counterparts. He added that these are highly skilled workers who are much needed to meet labor shortages which the Republic now faces.

"We need to ensure that support and encouragement is given as much to ventures linking Clonakilty with Coleraine as those linking Dundalk with Dungannon," Clarke said.

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