Swiss hope to lure 250 of our builders at jobseekers' expo
WHEN Irish builders go looking for work far from these shores, Switzerland does not exactly spring to mind.
But the old movie quote about the country where 500 years of democracy and peace produced nothing more than the cuckoo clock is being stood on its head.
With around 40,000 apartments needed to fill an accommodation shortage, one Mayo man is determined to lure Irish construction workers to Switzerland, offering wages three times higher than they might hope to get here – if they could get a job at all.
Anthony Howley of Swiss Construction Jobs was at the Jobs Expo at Croke Park in Dublin yesterday hoping to recruit 250 Irish builders to take up immediate positions.
One obstacle, Anthony admitted, is the language – but he is offering classes to teach the basics, claiming workers will pick the rest up on the building sites.
"Most construction jobs here pay €8 to €12 an hour. In Switzerland, it's three times higher – around €30 to €32 an hour," revealed Anthony.
The language difficulties would not put off candidate Willie Sherlock from Coolock in Dublin, he said.
A tiler by trade, work has dried up in the last five months and with a wife and two children, he now has to think of leaving Ireland.
"It's a case of having to," said Willie. "They say the recession is over but I don't know who they're talking about because I find it worse now than ever."
It's a similar situation for Kevin Dunne (34) from Rosenallis, Co Laois – a carpenter who came back to Ireland after 12 years in San Francisco after his father fell ill.
"I noticed a big change when I came back – everyone was so miserable. It was a real shock," he said.
Since he was undocumented in the States, it would be very difficult now to get back in and Canada is now on his horizons.
Even if a job cropped up here, he doesn't think he would stay.
"I'd sooner go elsewhere," he said, admitting: "I'm chasing the weather too I suppose."
Among the jobhunters were Tipperary couple Louise Tobin, who has a degree in marketing, and Michael Collins, a driller by trade, who are also thinking of heading away to Canada.
With a two-year-old son, they want to go away before he starts school.
"I'm working on a pig farm at the moment but it's not what I'm used to," said Michael.
There are plenty of opportunities in Canada, according to Kevin Shields (27) from Enniscrone, Co Sligo, who left home three years ago and says it's the best thing he ever did.
Currently over recruiting some 50 construction jobs for major company, Ellisdon, Mr Shields said his family did not know he was home – and so he was off to surprise them last night.