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Skills shortage worsens as visa delays continue

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Stephen McKinley

Work visas are taking up to 18 weeks to process, according to some businesses in Dublin, who attacked the government for not doing more to make immigration issues smoother for skilled workers needed in the Celtic Tiger.

The Small Firms Association said that Tanaiste Mary Harney had promised in October that the process would be reduced to one week.

“The immigration changes are not working while the costs have been increased by 250 percent, but permits now take three months. Ireland still has skills shortage and needs overseas workers,” SFA boss Pat Delaney said.

“Immigration will continue to be a feature of the Irish labor market going forward and an efficient immigration system is necessary to Ireland’s competitiveness,” said Jackie Harrison, social policy director at IBEC.

Despite a hike in fees, processing times appeared to be increasing, the SFA said.

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“Ireland remains in the grip of a severe skills shortage, and we will require further immigration over the coming years because of labor force and demographics factors,” Delaney said.

Bent bananas?

The Irish Stock Exchange has sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions alleging insider trading at Fyffes, the fruit distribution company.

A former Fyffes CEO is already under investigation by the gardai, the Irish Times has reported.

Buy beef

Buy beef, the head of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association told consumers last week.

Charlie Reilly said that consumers should know one thing — that Irish beef was of the highest quality in the world. Look for the Bord Bia FTile Bia sign at over 400 restaurants nationwide, he said, which indicated that only Irish beef is served on those premises.

“Irish beef is fully traceable and is top quality. Irish cattle are practically organic and are reared on extensive farms. For these reasons and also the fact that buying Irish beef will support local businesses and industry, consumers should insist on their local restaurants serving Irish beef,” Reilly said.

Ireland produced 500,000 tons of beef last year and of this, 50,000 was consumed in Ireland, he said. But 8,000 tons came from European Community imports.

“Every restaurant owner should be able to tell his or her customers where the beef they are serving has come from,” Reilly said. “If they are not sure, then this is not good enough. Restaurants serving imported beef are profiteering on the backs of both customers and farmers. While they are paying less for imported beef, they are still selling it for the same price as Irish beef.”

Iona office abroad

Iona technologies has announced that it has opened an office in Singapore, its ninth office in the Asia-Pacific region.

The e-business platform provider said that it will attack the Singaporean, Malaysian, and other Asian markets.

“End-to-Anywhere integration requires a tightly architected, non-proprietary platform, plus a set of services that are adaptable to an organization’s strategic requirements,” said Mike Verretto, vice president Asia-Pacific at Iona.

“Our customers and those of our partners share integration challenges with critical business implications-challenges involving an array of mainframe-, Microsoft-, J2EE- and CORBA-based applications.”

Anderson losing customers.

Tainted by its association with the collapsed energy giant Enron, the accounting firm Arthur Anderson has been losing business worldwide, has been indicted by the United States in the scandal, and may well go bankrupt.

In Ireland, the situation is no different, though a spokesperson defended the firm. Anderson employs 400 consultants in Dublin, including 21 partners. While the business is run as a separate entity and is not obliged to stump up cash in companywide payouts to disgruntled shareholders of Enron, partners may be called upon to provide some cash.

Anderson did confirm that its business would take a hit from the loss of clients such as Delta Airlines and drugs company Merck. Andersen said the firm had lost about 2 percent of its annual U.S. revenues.

“I would be the first to acknowledge that we’re looking at a significant hit,” a spokesperson said. “There is no plan for bankruptcy. We’re affirmatively moving forward with our business in the U.S.”

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