Career Zoo: Athlone and the Midlands region in 'growth mode'
'The message must go out that the Midlands is in growth mode and offers excellent career advancement'
ATHLONE and the Midlands is emerging as one of the country's most attractive places to live and work because of the significantly lower cost of living and an unrivalled lifestyle.
That is according to leading employers attending a major recruitment event this Saturday in Athlone.
More than 20 major science, tech and pharma firms will next week take part in the biggest ever recruitment event held at the International Arena – with over 5,000 people attending Career Zoo Athlone.
Global and local tech, MedTech and pharma employers such as Ericsson, Abbott, KCI, Genesys, Teleflex, PPD, Jazz Pharma, FRS and Neueda will be showcasing the hundreds of open roles they have on offer.
Until now, Career Zoo has traditionally taken place in Dublin but according to Chris Forsdyke, Executive Director of the PPD Laboratories GMP Lab, the Midlands is catching the eye of highly ambitious job seekers.
"The diversity and scope for opportunities at PPD Laboratories’ here in Athlone are vast," he said.
"We are in growth mode and seeking candidates with a science background. We currently have opportunities for analytical chemists, biopharmaceutical scientists, QC data reviewers, lab supervisors, project managers and research scientists.
"We want to get the message out there that the growing pharmaceutical sector in the Midlands rivals other regions in terms of facilities and global influence and that PPD can offer excellent career opportunities and advancement, coupled with the balanced quality of life associated with living in the Midlands."
That message is echoed by another key employer in the region – Neueda Technologies – which is currently offering opportunities across a range of disciplines within software development, cloud engineering and agile practitioners.
Paul Madden, Managing Director of Neueda, said: “As well as being able to offer highly rewarding careers in an innovative, open, diverse working environment, our location in Athlone provides our employees with excellent work life balance. We are excited to be part of Career Zoo and looking forward to meeting top tech talent that may be a valued addition to our growing company.
“Athlone is a hugely attractive region for kick starting or growing your career within the tech industry.
"The town is based in the heart of Ireland and is well equipped with attractions/restaurants/outdoor activities. There is a better standard of living in comparison to other cities, and commuting to work is very manageable.”
Career Zoo Director Brian Ó hOisín said better take-home pay, more free time, more affordable and spacious housing are hallmarks of living in the Midlands and the surrounding region with Athlone perfectly positioned at the centre of this expanding and connected region.
The tech, biotech and professional services recruiting event, is taking place in the International Arena on Saturday May 11 from 10.00am to 4.30pm with an ‘after-party’.
Making the switch to the Midlands
Karen Flanagan Validation Team Leader, Abbott, Longford
"I’m from Doonbeg in County Clare originally, but I lived in Galway for four years while I was studying Biochemistry and then I spent two years in Dublin doing my Masters.
"I joined Abbott Longford as a Quality Technician in October 2015 and I’ve had so many opportunities to progress and develop during that time. I’ve worked hard, and my efforts were rewarded with three promotions since I joined. Another great benefit is that I’m now only a 2.5-hour drive from my family, so I usually go home to Clare once a month to see them.
"Life is affordable and relaxed in Longford. I find I am saving while still enjoying a nice lifestyle. My fiancé and I can afford to rent a lovely big three-bedroom house in the centre of the town.
"Longford is right in the centre of the country so it’s easy to get to and from and I like the nice vibe in the town as well, it reminds me a lot of home."
Cathriona O’Connor, Group Leader, PPD Laboratories, Athlone
“I’ve been working with PPD Laboratories in Athlone for about six years now. The company offers a variety of different career paths with lots of room for growth. I started as an Associate Group Leader in July 2013 and now I’m a Group Leader.
“For the first year I commuted from Maynooth in Kildare. The commute was just 50 minutes and it was away from the traffic, so I didn’t mind the journey, but after having our first child, my partner and I decided to settle down in Athlone.
“I’m originally from Kildare, but the cost of living was a big factor. Houses are much better value in the midlands, so my partner and I were able to afford a lovely detached house in the village of Ballinahown just outside Athlone town.
“Within the first few months of living in Athlone I fell in love with the place. I had always lived in a commuter town, so I spent my life driving in and out of Dublin, but Athlone is different. It’s a really lovely town with lots of great shops, restaurants, and there’s a great night life all on your doorstep.
“The house prices are much cheaper, and the quality of life is better. PPD offers me excellent work life balance, I can pick up kids after work and be home within 10 minutes, it feels nice to have free evenings. And at the weekends, there are so many playgrounds, lakes, and castles to explore with the children. Practically every county is easily accessible; it really is the heart of Ireland.”