Temporary Agency Workers Directive has potential to significantly impact multinationals in Ireland
Friday, 1 July 2011 US Companies in Ireland are currently seeking over 2,000 people to fill vacant positions in their companies, the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland’s annual Workforce Activation Survey published today shows.
The Survey is carried out each year to track employment trends among US companies in Ireland. 109 companies responded, and of those, some 90% are recruiting to fill current vacancies.
Many of the 2000 vacancies provide opportunities for new graduates from Irish universities. In 2010, over 800 new graduates were hired by respondents. In 2011, hiring intentions of member companies for graduates had increased 21 percent to 986 new hires.
Speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce Independence Day lunch today, Mr. Gerard Kilcommins, President of the Chamber and Vice President of Global Operations for Medtronic’s Vascular businesses said that the survey pointed to the fact that the multinational sector in Ireland remains strong and continues to provide excellent employment opportunities for suitably qualified candidates.
The survey was released in the midst of new data published by the US Department of Commerce in Washington this week, which shows that US companies in Ireland now have a total stock of investment of $190 billion. This, Kilcommins revealed, is “5% of all US foreign direct investment worldwide, and more than that in the BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China combined”.
However, Mr. Kilcommins cautioned “we need to ensure that any planned or proposed changes to Ireland’s employment legislation do not impact on our reputation for flexibility in our labour force”.
Mr. Kilcommins said that the imminent transposition of the Temporary Agency Workers Directive (TAWD) into Irish law would have a significant impact on multinational employers, many of whom rely on agency workers for much needed flexibility within their organisations.
“The Directive needs to be transposed in such a way that agency workers are neither priced out of the market or do not require a level of administration or bureaucracy which would make their engagement unattractive or unworkable”, he said.
“Flexibility is hugely important as well. American firms in Ireland are exceptionally good employers and we are enormously proud of our track record in that regard. We also have extremely good relations with our staff and these relations are, by and large, based on the direct engagement model. This model has served companies and their employees very well over the years and it has also benefited the country”.
“There have been calls for reform in the area of collective bargaining. Any move away from the voluntary model of industrial relations, which has existed in Ireland since the foundation of the State, would undermine what continues to be one of the cornerstones of our successful transformation into a modern knowledge-based economy in recent years”, said Mr Kilcommins.
Mr Kilcommins said that any dilution of the current voluntary model would create a barrier to job creation and could damage our capacity to attract and retain inward investment.
Ironically, despite Ireland’s rising unemployment rates, some companies are having difficulty filling vacancies. 30% of roles are taking longer than 3 months to fill, “reflecting a lack of suitable skills and experience for specific roles”, according to Mr. Kilcommins.
“Among Ireland’s key selling points when it comes to attracting inward investment are our skilled and well educated workforce, our flexibility and our enterprise friendly operating environment. Our Workforce Activation Survey has already shown that skills gaps are starting to emerge – particularly in the Science and Technology fields – and this needs to be addressed urgently to protect existing and future investments”, he said.
Mr. Kilcommins encouraged the Government to continue to invest in education insofar as it is possible given the current financial environment. “Education is the key to closing the skills gap. The rewards for investment in skills and education are great and the penalties for failure are severe”.
Mr. Kilcommins concluded; “Ireland remains a very good place to do business but competition from countries throughout Europe and Asia is intensifying. We cannot afford to stand still; we all share a responsibility for striving to make Ireland an even better place to do business and we owe it to ourselves and those coming after us to get the message out there that this country’s flexible, enterprise and investment -friendly environment is a reality, not a slogan”.
The lunch, which was attended by over 300 American Chamber members and their guests was sponsored by ARAMARK Ireland.