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Joe Robbins: companies not offering remote or hybrid work situations are at a major disadvantage.

Shortage of workers across all sectors in Clare

POST Covid-19 restrictions there is a significant shortage of labour across the economy, according to Joe Robbins of CareerWise Recruitment, which operates from Shannon, as well as having bases in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Mayo.

While many jobs in the western world went to China over the last 30 years, he says that trend is now being reversed, which is leading to more jobs here, but they aren’t necessarily easy to fill.

“It’s called in-sourcing, they’re trying to bring stuff away from China and to become less reliant on China. Obviously it’s leading to inflation, but more importantly in the long run it’s going to mean a lot more opportunities for the likes of Ireland to supply the big multinational companies. In fairness during Covid we kept everything going as a country, which was great.

“A lot of the American corporates were very impressed that the Irish subsidaries kept everything going. That’s one big factor that’s going to lead to a huge amount of new opportunities in Ireland. There are companies talking about expanding, and there are new companies opening up. That’s led to a serious skills shortage.”

He said the pandemic led to many people, particularly women, leaving the workforce. In addition, many people from Eastern Europe decided to leave Ireland.

“A lot of people, especially at the lower levels of the economy, went back to their home countries during the PUP, especially in Eastern Europe, and they haven’t come back yet. There’s a shortage of people everywhere, a shortage of product builders, a shortage in catering, manufacturing, every area is really suffering now because of a shortage of skills.”

The Irishjobs.ie index for the first quarter of the year showed Clare vacancies up 61% year on year, and up by 11% on the last quarter of 2021.

Mr Robbins said that despite salaries increasing there is still a shortage of workers, and that solving the problem through immigration would be very difficult, due to the chronic shortage of housing here.

One thing he feels will make a difference is the arrival of Ukrainian refugees, while he also says the conflict there is encouraging people in neighbouring countries to return to Ireland.

“A lot of Ukrainian people are coming into Ireland and they’re getting positions. For instance we placed a few with Zimmer Biomet in Shannon and they’re working out great, so that’s easing the problem a bit. I think also, some of the Eastern European people have been scared by what’s happening in Ukraine, so they’re on the way back to Ireland.

“I think it’s going to improve over the next three to six months with Ukrainian refugees getting positions and Eastern European people coming back to Ireland because they see it as a safe country and a great place to come to.”

While it is not possible for every industry or role, he says there is a huge demand among employees for remote work.

“We’re sending people for interview and the first question they’re asking is if there is remote working. You wouldn’t have heard that a few years ago but now everyone wants some kind of remote working. It’s an employees market and they’re demanding some level of remote working.”

Many companies do want staff to come to a workplace at least part of the time, but he says they will find it hard to get people if hybrid working isn’t an option.

“If you don’t offer it you’re at a disadvantage and it’s an employees market, so most companies are forced to do it. If they don’t they can’t find the staff.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.