Jobs Bloom in Ireland′s Green Fields | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 17.04.2002
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Jobs Bloom in Ireland's Green Fields

Ireland is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. But the boom has also seen a shortage in workers - one that German is filling.


Ireland has more than green fields to offer

These days, emigration to Ireland is an easy matter for young, well-educated and highly qualified people. The past decade has seen a tremendous boom in Ireland’s economy, and with it a shortage in workers.

In Germany, on the other hand, both the young and old are finding the search for a job increasingly frustrating. With unemployment well over the 4 million mark, more and more Germans are looking across borders for an unemployment of some kind.

Bernhard Racz lost his job at the age of 41. He has now moved to Shannon, on the Irish West Coast where he works at a Call Centre. "What should I do", he says, "the job situation in Berlin is so bad, I have to make other plans."

Half the 110 employees at the Pan-European Communication call centre, where Racz works, are German. The Pan-European Communication callcentre is a subsidiary of the German post office.

Ireland, with its low tax and wage bills is proving increasingly attractive to foreign firms.

Fastest growing economy

According to the OECD, Ireland’s economy grew at an annual average rate of 8.5 per cent from 1996 to 2000, compared to an EU average of 2.3 per cent.

One of the key economic developments in the 90s were high levels of growth that were extremely employment intensive, with numbers growing by more than 370 000 per year. Unemployment levels since 1993 have more than halved.

Many Germans are among those making up for the shortfall in employees.

One small business sector which has profited from Ireland’s economy boom are private job agencies specialised in recruiting foreigners for work in Ireland.

Careermoves is an Irish recruitment agency in Germany specialized in sourcing international candidates for a wide range of positions in Ireland.

According to Careermoves, "thanks to the onging enconomic boom, there is enormous demand for qualified staff in the health and social services sector". But apart from doctors, nurses and physiotherapists, the agency also has numerous jobs on offer for Germans in other sectors, including finance, administration and IT.

Close business ties

German-Irish business ties have a long tradition. Germany, following GB and the US, is third in foreign trade with Ireland.

Since Dublin’s International Financial Services Centre was founded, 400 banks and insurance companies have settled in Ireland’s capital – 40 of them are from Germany. 15 of Ireland’s 35 largest banks are German.

According to the Industrial Development Authority, IDA Ireland, over 1,200 companies have chosen Ireland as their base to serve the European market, employing 116,000 people.

An additional 15,000 people are employed by these companies on a temporary or contract basis.

In 1998, overseas companies exported goods and services to the value of €34 bn (£21 bn) an increase of almost 30 per cent to the previous year. These companies also spend around €13 bn (£8 billion) in the Irish economy each year.

Foreign investors are particularly attracted to Ireland due to its low corporate tax rates, one of the lowest in the world.

A series of wage agreements between employers and employees has ensured that wage inflation is low. Statutory add-on costs are one of the lowest in Europe. Total hourly compensation in Ireland for production workers in manufacturing is 14,43 $, compared to 25, 80 $ in Germany.

In other words, work is cheap in ireland, and German investors are well aware of the advantages in outsourcing company branches to the green island in the midst of a German recession.

But what is advantageous to the companies is not necessarily so for the workers.

German Bernhard Racz now earns just 1,044 euro a month, after tax, plus overtime.

A low wage - considering that Racz has had to cross the channel and start a new life in a foreign country inorder to make a livelihood at all.

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