Tuesday 11 December 2018

US has 'too few skilled people for the jobs available'

Thomas Donohue
Thomas Donohue

Colm Kelpie

The United States has a huge number of jobs but not enough skilled people to fill them, the head of the country's chamber of commerce has said.

Thomas J Donohue, President and CEO of the US Chamber, said there are only "a few people left without jobs" in the US.

"Our unemployment is down below 4pc," Mr Donohue said, in a speech at Ibec in Dublin yesterday.

"What our biggest problem is, we have massive numbers of jobs without people and particularly without people with skills to do those jobs.

"There are only two things that it takes to make real economic growth long term, one is money - and there is tons of money in the world - and the other is people. If you don't have the people, and the kind of people you need, you're not going to get there and it is a reality we're going to have to face in the United States."

Mr Donohue said the answer to this was immigration, a particularly hot political topic in the US. Immigration was one of the issues at the heart of the Federal Government shutdown.

At the core of the Democratic Party's demands is the fate of young people, so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally as children. Former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme extended legal protections to about 700,000 of them, shielding them from being deported.

Mr Donohue signalled he backed the programme. "Those people aren't going anywhere," he said.

Mr Donohue also said that trade is the "one thing" that the Chamber has disagreements with the Trump administration.

Mr Trump - who entered office last year pledging to undo what he described as disastrous trade deals - has portrayed the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement as grossly unfair to the US and its workers.

But Mr Donohue said the Chamber rejected the idea of trying to end Nafta. "We're not taking that apart," he said.

On Brexit, Mr Donohue said the US will need Ireland post Brexit, without elaborating. "We really need Ireland to step up when this Brexit thing gets done," he said.

Irish Independent

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