independent

Friday 18 April 2014

PayPal boss says graduates are not hungry enough to succeed

Irish head Phelan claims young recruits have no interest in learning new skills

Louise Phelan: employees must be ready to work hard

THE Government's new jobs tsar has lashed out at young recruits, saying they carry a "sense of entitlement" and have no interest in learning the skills necessary to succeed in the work place.

Louise Phelan, who runs the Irish arm of online payments giant PayPal, said that while many graduates looking for a job with her company worked hard and got on, others expected to be handed everything on a plate.

"We have some superb graduates working for us, but there are others who arrive in and have a sense of entitlement that I wouldn't have expected to see," she said.

"Whether it's because they grew up in the boom and perhaps didn't have to work too hard at that stage I'm not sure, but there is a sense that because they have a degree, then we should be grateful to have them.

"The reality though is that unemployment is at more than 14pc and people without degrees are almost in the minority. I'm not sure they realise that," she said.

Ms Phelan is one of the highest profile executives in the country. Last year her company announced it would create 1,000 jobs in Dundalk, and followed that with plans for an additional 450 positions last month.

The company allows customers and businesses to buy and sell goods using an online account rather than having to exchange credit card details with numerous companies. The biggest payments firm in the world, it reputedly facilitates more than €300m worth of transactions per day.

Ms Phelan has repeatedly praised Ireland as a destination for investment but worries that younger generations aren't hungry enough to get ahead in their careers and are woefully underprepared when they enter full-time employment.

"A number of graduates don't seem to understand how to carry themselves in a workplace, but more importantly don't show an interest in learning how to do it.

"That could be something as simple as a person having their feet up on their desk or it could be arriving in for a client meeting looking like they were out all night. These seem like small things, but they really matter.

"People who may have grown up in the 1980s and 1990s seem to 'get' that much more than those who came of age in the last few years," she claimed.

Targets

"Everyone works hard but you can't have a situation where someone misses their targets and then expects to be promoted.

"Whether that idea comes from parenting, their education or their previous employers I'm not sure, but it certainly is the case."

While executives at multinationals based in Ireland have repeatedly criticised graduates' weakness in the likes of foreign languages and maths, few have come out as bluntly about the quality of person coming out of our colleges and looking for work.

Under Ms Phelan, PayPal's operation here has earned a reputation as a "work hard, play hard" environment. Staff are given great freedom on a day-to-day basis, as long as they hit their targets.

Irish Independent

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