By Harry Keaney
So bad is the current shortage of workers in some sectors in Ireland that the government is now planning to fast-track applications for work permits.
Last weekend, while attending a jobs fair in South Africa, Tanaiste Mary Harney said she was considering allowing FAS, a government recruitment and training agency, as well as reputable private companies, to issue work permits directly.
Harney also said the State needs new labor to remain competitive, avoid a wage spiral and implement the National Development Plan. This would require an additional 200,000 workers by 2006, she said. FAS director general Roddy Molloy said there are now 40,000 vacancies in Ireland.
In addition, Harney said the government is considering extending a visa plan to cover foreign workers with accounting qualifications. It currently applies only to computer and building specialists and to nurses.
The jobs fair in Capetown was attended by almost 20,000 people during two days. It later moved to Johannesburg.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
The fairs in South Africa are part of a series in which FAS has attempted to hire people in Prague, Berlin, London and Newfoundland.
Dr. Eleanor O’Higgins, professor of strategic management and business ethics at the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business at University College Dublin, will speak on Dec. 5 at noon at The Metropolitan Club, One East 60th St., Manhattan. She will talk about "What Matters Most? A New Business Agenda for the Stakeholder Era."
Visitors to Dublin may soon find it a little easier to get a taxi. Last week, Bobby Molloy, a government junior minister, announced that he is allowing 150 new taxi licenses a week for the foreseeable future.
Now, anyone with a clean driving record and a car that meets safety standards may apply for one of the £5,000 licenses. The cost is just £100 for wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
However, there are fears that the opening up of the Dublin taxi market may not go smoothly with fears of reprisals from taxi drivers hitting companies which instal meters in cabs.
There are only a handful of firms in Dublin where cab drivers can have meters installed. The owner of one company told the Irish Independent he plans to stop fitting meters "because of the climate of intimidation that surrounds the current taxi dispute."
As many as 2,000 people have already collected an application for a taxi license from Dublin Corporation’s offices, and the first batch of successful applicants are expected to be on the road this week. But these plans could be thrown into disarray if drivers cannot get their meters fitted.
Jobs for Cavan
More than 700 new jobs are to be created in Cavan Town by Boston-based company Teradyne in a £50 million expansion.
Teradyne supplies telephone and electronic testing equipment.
Election in the air?
There is increased speculation that next year may well be an election year in Ireland. That’s because government figures released last week show that Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy intends to vastly increase spending next year in election-sensitive sectors such as health, education, welfare, child care and the transport system.
What exactly McCreevy has in mind will be revealed Dec. 6, which is budget day in Ireland.
Government spending estimates for next year show an almost extra £1.5 billion extra for the day-to-day running of the country and £740 million more for investment in roads, railways, sewers, waterworks and services to facilitate the building of more than 50,000 houses.
Tax rates are also expected to be cut.
Ireland’s central bank has issued a warning about three investment firms, which, it says, are conducting unauthorized business in the country.
They are two Philippines-registered companies, Trident International and Sterling Capital Corporation, and one New York firm, Everest 1 Inc.
"The firms have been recommending the purchase of shares to members of the Irish public. It is a criminal offense for an investment firm to operate in Ireland unless it has an authorization from the central bank," the central bank’s warning says.
Thanks and farewell
This item is both a first and a last. A first because business briefs has never been personal, a last because, like thousands of other Irish immigrants, I am returning to Ireland to take my chances in its Celtic Tiger economy. So, to all those who contacted me during the years, whether it was with praise, criticism, suggestions or tips, thank you. Thanks also to the many who shared their time and thoughts by allowing me interview them.
Above all, my gratitude to you, the readers.