By Harry Keaney
Got the right skills and experience, or a good business idea? Then Ireland is among the best places in the world in which to work or invest.
For some time now, this is the message Irish agencies, both North and South, have been spreading throughout the world.
As it basks in the limelight as one of Europe’s most vibrant economies, the Emerald Isle is now home to an array of subsidiaries of U.S. corporations. And workers from throughout Europe are flocking to Ireland for some of the spoils from the Celtic Tiger economy.
Most ironic of all, however, is the fact that Ireland, once hobbled by unemployment and rampant emigration, now fears a shortage of qualified workers in certain sectors. It was in an effort to alleviate this potential problem that the department of Enterprise Trade and Employment recently relaxed the rules applying to the issuance of work permits for non-European Union nationals — who have skills that are required by business and industry in Ireland.
And qualified Americans, Irish passport or not, are more than welcome in Ireland. In fact, the Celtic Tiger is pleading with them to come.
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"IreLAND of 24 percent profits," advertisements in recent issues of The Wall Street Journal have been declaring. "That’s what American manufacturers have enjoyed on their investments in Ireland. And while that rate is impressive, it is staggering when you consider that the second most profitable European country achieves under 10 percent. Going for profits? Go for Ireland," the advert urged.
Irish government agencies also provide a range of incentives and services to lure workers to Ireland. The Irish government agency Enterprise Ireland and Ireland’s department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment have established a program called Opportunity Ireland to promote the opportunities available in the Irish software and electronic sectors.
For details on vacancies in Ireland’s software and electronics sectors, log onto www.opportunity-ireland.com.
An idea of the high-tech jobs on offer in Ireland may also be gleamed by attending the first Irish technology career expo in the U.S., which will take place June 14-15 in New York and June 17-18 in Boston.
The expo, showcasing high-tech job opportunities, will feature more than 50 of Ireland’s leading high-tech companies which are recruiting for software, engineering, hardware, and sales and marketing staff.
Admission to the expo is free. There will be a number of guest speakers covering immigration, taxation, property, banking, storage, moving, and relocation services.
In New York, the career expo will be held at the Sheraton Towers Hotel; in Boston, the venue will be the Hynes Convention Center.
Meanwhile, for budding entrepreneurs, there’s the Millennium Entrepreneur Fund providing early-stage risk seed capital funding to highly skilled individuals and teams who have identified a technology-based high-growth potential opportunity.
Qualified applicants may receive seed capital investment of up to £100,000, a company mentor, a successful Irish-based patron company to give advice and counsel, a client executive to advise on business development and a trade development executive to advise on market research and marketing strategies.
But if Ireland is the land of opportunity, it is only so for some. Despite historically low levels of unemployment and a possible shortage of workers in some sectors, emigration remains a fact of Irish life.
More than 4,000 people a year are now crossing the Atlantic to become "illegals" in the U.S., according to a Catholic church report published last week.
The report says that total emigration is continuing to run at more than 20,000 a year.
The report points out that poor, less skilled and less well-qualified people continue to constitute the bulk of Irish emigrants in the last 10 years.
In the Ireland of today, opportunity certainly beckons, but those answering the call better have the high-tech skills currently in demand.