Country needs to 'get past' hiring overseas staff, warns PayPal chief
Shortage of skills, especially languages, must be fixed as we move into mobile age
THE head of PayPal in Ireland has hit back at critics of her company's recruitment strategy, calling on people to "get past" the high number of people from overseas on her staff.
Earlier this year, PayPal created 1,000 jobs at its offices in Dundalk but it has since emerged that about half the number of people employed there are not from Ireland.
Speaking at a chief executives' forum in Dublin yesterday, however, Louise Phelan strongly defended her company's recruitment strategy.
"Language skills are a big challenge. It's hard to find a Hebrew or Turkish speaker over here. I have to go overseas to bring staff in.
"As a country, we need to get past the number of staff hired from elsewhere. We hire an Irish person for every non-national we take on, be that for training, catering or many other functions," she said.
PayPal employs about 164 people in Germany even though its European headquarters is here, and Ms Phelan said that was a product of a lack of availability in Ireland.
"I would love to have those staff here but we couldn't get 164 German speakers in Ireland, it was that simple.
"There is a skills shortage and we need to fix that, especially as the business moves towards mobile," she added.
Her words were echoed by UCD economist Colm McCarthy who said the education system's emphasis on Irish was "ludicrous. We are the only country in western Europe that doesn't teach a modern language at primary level.
"The idea that we have an advantage over continental Europe because we speak English is a fallacy. The rest of the continent is speaking English as well and we are ignoring that," he said.
Mr McCarthy went on to claim that Ireland would need a second bailout despite the troika saying the country was still on target to return to the markets next year.
"The Government can't afford yields to be much above 4pc and, in any case, the international markets do not have the appetite to fund the State for the year and to roll over debt, so it is unlikely to be there by the end of next year," he said.
Chris Martin heads the Musgrave Group, which owns the likes of Superquinn and SuperValu supermarkets. He pointed to the fact that prices in the Republic are now almost on a par with those in the North.
"Three years ago, it was 34pc cheaper to shop in Northern Ireland. Now, that difference is just 1pc," he said.
He also highlighted the fact that the Government still hasn't created a long-term solution for the SME sector. "We have two pillar banks and a host of international banks here and we are seeing the same problems with all of them.
"This has been going on for a while now and the Government has tried various measures.
"What has been somewhat ignored, however, is the fact that a lot of SMEs need to go through debt restructuring to ensure they are properly strengthened for the future," Mr Martin said.