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Business Briefs Skills shortage could dampen Irish economy

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Message to immigrants: If you have engineering or computer skills, Ireland needs you.

According to the Irish government-sponsored Expert Group on Future Skills, the Celtic Tiger will be needing 2,011 engineering professionals every year from now until 2003, 1,806 engineering technicians, 2,377 computer science professionals, and 2,078 computer science technicians. This comes to an annual total of 8,272.

The current annual supply is 6,100, leaving a shortfall of 2,172 every year.

Dr. Chris Horn, chairman of the Expert Group on Future Skills, and also chairman of Iona Technologies, has warned that if the skills issue is not adequately addressed, it will create problems for the economy which will limit its growth potential.

Dr. Horn said the availability of skilled technical staff in Ireland is both an opportunity and a challenge: an opportunity to exploit the global shortage in technology skills to bring further business to Ireland, and a challenge to ensure that world-class skilled staff continue to be available.

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Ireland’s current demand for skilled personnel is driven, in large part, by the booming Irish economy, the success of which can be gauged at a glance from recent government figures. From 1994-97, Ireland’s gross domestic product has averaged 8.4 percent, compared with a European average of 2.3 percent. In 1997, Ireland exported the equivalent of $14,000 per head of population, more than five times the comparative figure for the United States, more than three times that for Britain and Japan, and twice that for Germany.

And Ireland is now the world’s second largest exporter of computer software – second to the U.S.

Trade Board opens office in Shanghai

During the last two years, Irish exports to China have risen by more than 40 percent to _33.5 million, so it was little wonder then that the Irish Trade Board opened an office in Shanghai on. The new office will be managed by Frank Mulligan, 37, from Dublin.

Easter Bunny sales

Retail sales in Ireland were 12.3 percent higher last April than a year earlier. The value of April 1998 sales was 1.7 percent greater than the previous month. However, the central statistics office pointed out that Easter fell in April this year and in March last year.

October floating

The Irish central bank has approved the flotation of the First National Building Society. After the flotation, the First National will be known as First Active. The flotation is planned for October, subject to market conditions.

Cross-border trade

A delegation of more than 150 people, led by Dublin Chamber of Commerce, visited Belfast last Friday as part of an effort to increase trade between North and South. Dublin chamber president Jim Ruane said the recent peace agreement in Northern Ireland, and the stability it would bring, would yield significant opportunities for new business.

McGowan is labor boss

James J. McGowan was confirmed recently as the commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor. McGowan spent more than 25 years as a New York City fireman. He comes to the Labor Department after having served as president of New York State Professional Firefighters Association since 1988. He also served for three years as chairman of the New York State Hazard Abatement Board.

Talking computers, and jobs, in Calif.

T_naiste Mary Harney and the chief executive of the Industrial Development Authority, Kieran McGowan, emerged from a 75-minute meeting with two top Apple Computer executives in San Jose, Calif., on Friday saying they were pleased but refusing to discuss specifics about their efforts to save 600 jobs at Apple’s plant in Cork.

According to the Irish Times, Harney said the meeting went better than expected but declined to say more on the basis that negotiations were at a delicate stage.

Apple began a review of the Cork operations last March when Tim Cook, now senior vice president of worldwide operations, took over.

McGowan had flown into San Jose specially for the meeting. He had been in New York as part of President Mary McAleese’s delegation during her visit to the Big Apple.

At a dinner in the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose on Thursday night last, attended by about 300 Silicon Valley executives, Harney said she had visited the heart of the world’s computer industry three times in the last 10 months.

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