HUNDREDS of Irish people have taken jobs abroad after being alerted to them by the Department of Social Protection.
Figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveal unemployed tradesmen, teachers and hospitality workers have rushed to apply for the jobs, such is the poor state of the market here.
The department has faced criticism that it is fuelling emigration and a drain of skilled workers by sending letters to jobseekers advertising positions around Europe and in Canada.
However, the process is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks with the department alerting thousands of skilled out-of-work tradesmen to major recruitment drives in the UK, Germany and Canada.
Most of the positions have been advertised under the European Employment Service (EURES) scheme, which has assisted jobseekers take up work in other EU countries since 1993.
So far this year, hundreds of unemployed people have secured jobs abroad after being alerted to them in letters sent by the department.
* Some 82 people who took up hospitality and sales positions at Disneyland Paris since January after 200 letters were issued by the department.
* Some 160 plumbers now employed in Norway after the department sent out 500 letters advertising positions there.
* A further 15 electricians who have gone to work in Norway;
* Some 13 teachers who started working in Madrid after 101 letters were issued.
A spokesman for Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said Ireland, as part of the EURES network, was legally obliged to inform jobseekers of the vacancies.
The letters say: "Please note this letter is only for information and there is no obligation on you to apply for the vacancy and it will not have an impact on your jobseeker payment if you are in receipt of one and decide not to apply for the vacancy."
A further exodus is expected in the coming months to the British midlands and Germany where Jaguar and Land Rover have 1,500 job vacancies. The department said it had issued 2,500 letters to jobseekers in recent weeks for these positions.
Meanwhile, a further 2,500 letters have been issued as Canadian firms seek to fill 464 construction jobs.
Ms Burton's spokesman said these jobs were being advertised following a special request from the Canadian government.
The spokesman said EURES was a two-way street, with Irish job vacancies also available to candidates from across the EU.
These included vacancies at a company seeking to recruit over 200 call centre staff with foreign languages, including German, Danish, Hebrew, Turkish and Russian.