Work is returning and we must be ready to grab it
Published 28/01/2014 | 02:30
IN Davos last week, British prime minister David Cameron gave a passionate speech about how his country could become the "re-shore nation" by bringing lost jobs back from overseas.
The reasons are simple enough: rising fuel costs and higher salaries mean it is sometimes cheaper to make things in Europe while a shorter supply chain allows businesses to react more quickly to consumer demands.
Fashion group H&M is considering something similar as it struggles to compete with the short supply lines of rival Zara, which makes clothes in Spain.
Yesterday's announcement that Tyco is to create more than 500 jobs at a service centre in Cork might be part of this trend. While the company's new employees won't be doing what the last Tyco employees did, there are parallels. Tyco is locating the types of jobs here that have recently been going to Asia.
The closure of Tyco's manufacturing facilities in Shannon and Cork in 2007 and 2008 came as Ireland lost competitiveness relative to other countries.
Falling wages since the crash means that we are once again competitive in some fields, but Cork is also set to benefit from the move towards bringing call centres closer to home.
That's because call centres in distant countries where few European languages are spoken have met with a mixed reception in Europe.
While locating a call centre in Mumbai or Delhi makes sense on paper, it can often alienate customers who struggle to make themselves understood.
You don't always want to repeat yourself several times when making a car insurance claim, fixing your broadband or talking about your health.
Mr Cameron is right: some jobs will return from the Far East to Europe over the next few years for a mixture of reasons.
Here in Ireland, we need to be ready to grab those jobs when they come our way. If we don't, our nearest neighbour will.