By Harry Keaney
In Ireland, skills shortages and the tightness of the labor market are "fast becoming a significant impediment" to attracting multinational companies to establish or expand operations in the Republic, according to a recent released Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment document.
The document, "The Tightening Labor Market," points out that Ireland’s success in the past in attracting foreign investment "was due in no small part to the availability of a pool of skilled labor" and that’s "an asset that no longer exists," the document states.
Furthermore, the document points out that continued foreign investment is needed to replace a high level of job losses in the lower-skilled sectors, where Ireland is no longer competitive. An example of such companies is the Irish operations of the apparel company Fruit of the Loom. Continued foreign investment is also needed for more balanced regional investment.
Although much is made of the low unemployment rate in Ireland, thanks to the continuing Celtic Tiger boom, there is also record job losses in government-supported industries. "The Tightening Labor Market" points out that during 1999, IDA-supported firms lost almost 9,400 jobs, Enterprise Ireland lost almost 10,000 and Shannon Development lost more than 1,600.
"A rising trend in redundancies is now apparent," according to the document. "Notified redundancies in 1999 were 6 percent higher than in 1998. In the first two months of this year, notified redundancies were 26 percent up on the same period last year."
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Details from the document were published in the Irish Times newspaper following its release after a freedom of information request.
Keeping it local
In 1977, local authority rates were abolished in Ireland, a move that helped win a landslide victory for the incoming Fianna Fáil government. However, many observers say that, in retrospect, the move was disastrous because it resulted in lack of money for local infrastructural investment as well as robbed local authorities of much of their power.
Since then, however, local authorities have introduced local charges for services such as water and refuse. Now comes proposals for more local taxes. Under the Local Government Bill 2000, which has just been published, local authorities would be allowed to impose annual levies to fund certain local projects.
However, the proposals make provision for local polls on the issue before it is introduced.
The bill also introduces a new regime to stamp out corruption at local political and official level. Corrupt councilors and officials would face three years in jail and up to £100,000 in fines if convicted of taking bribes and backhanders.
The Irish American Building Society will hold its third annual dinner dance on Friday, May 19, at the New York Hilton Grand ballroom. The honorees will be Brian Dugan, senior vice president of real estate and construction at PaineWebber, and James Fitzgerald, president of James E. Fitzgerald, Inc., General Contractors.
Proceeds will benefit the IABS Scholarship Fund and selected charities.
Details, (212) 613-0090 or call Monica Weiner at (212) 494-9017.
The Irish Business Organization of New York will hold its annual golf outing on June 15 at New Jersey National Golf Club, located in The Hills development, off Rtes. 202/206 near the intersection of Interstates 287 and 78. The cost if $150 per person; this includes lunch, golf, golf cart, range balls, prizes and dinner.
Lunch and registration will start at 11:30 a.m., following by a shotgun start at 12:30. There will be prizes for members, non-members, men, women, longest drive and closest to the pin. Journal ads, hole sponsorship and volunteers are sought.
For details, call (877) IBO-3200.
Jobs for Monaghan
Seventy-five jobs are on the way to Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, at a planned new chilled desserts plant. The £2.9 m factory is planned by the U.S. firm Kozy Shack Enterprises.
Baltimore in Aussie deal
Baltimore Technologies has announced that its Australian subsidiary, Certificates Australia, as been selected by the Australian Health Insurance Commission to support the delivery of the HIC’s new online services.
Five companies from Northern Ireland were bidding last week for new business at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. It is the first time firms from Northern Ireland have taken part in the 30-year-old industry showcase.
Meanwhile, a business and political delegation from the U.S. arrived in Northern Ireland last week from Chicago. During its stay, delegates took part in a signing ceremony in Newcastle to establish a Sister County agreement between Cook County and the three South Down Councils of Newry & Mourne, Down & Banbridge and South Down.