By Pierce O’Reilly
U.S. internet technology companies in Ireland are enjoying their ride on the back of the Celtic Tiger while Irish employers in the tourism and manufacturing industries continue to grapple with labor shortages.
Recent reports suggest that a staggering 78,000 job vacancies are still unfilled in Ireland, with half of all manufacturing companies still suffering with vacancies.
One survey established that more than 30 percent of all companies have current vacancies, with this figure rising to more than 50 percent in the manufacturing sector. Many worker unions now feel that a more coherent immigration policy will have to be introduced if the country is to meet production demands.
"If you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys," one community activist said recently. "I don’t blame people for not taking some of those jobs."
In 1999 only 6,000 work permits were issued in Ireland to non-EU nationals, a figure many feel is inadequate. The figure for 2000 did improve, but employers say the government must do more.
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US dotcoms in Ireland, on the other hand, appear to be booming. The latest company to further enhance its workforce is the California firm salesforce.com, which recently established its European headquarters in Powerscourt House, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow.
Fifty new jobs will come on line in the company in the next few weeks, a spokesperson said.
The new positions will be mainly for multilingual sales and marketing staff, who will help develop the first phase of the company in Ireland and the UK.
Salesforce.com was founded in San Francisco by ex-Oracle senior vice-president Marc Benioff. Its European operation is headed by former Oracle Ireland Managing Director John Appleby and two other former Oracle employees.
Salesforce.com enables clients to securely access, manage and share sales data within the company — anytime, anywhere, from the Internet. The software costs £44.32 per month.
The company plans to expand its products to include a full suite of Customer Relationship Management applications in the near future.
There are 600 U.S. firms in Ireland employing 90,000 people and accounting for 20 percent of Irish exports at present. Many economists, however, are concerned that Ireland is vulnerable in the future as its unit labor costs will be pushed higher by accelerating wage inflation and a rising euro. This could result in a loss of competitiveness relative to other countries in Eastern Europe and the Far East. Other pessimists say the Irish economy is vulnerable to global restructuring and is very likely to be susceptible to the U.S. economic slowdown.