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Saturday 18 November 2017

IDA chief admits multinationals face language challenge

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

THE head of the state agency charged with attracting foreign investors has admitted it is "challenging" for multinationals to find workers with foreign languages.

However, Chief Executive of the IDA Barry O'Leary claimed there is an "over-emphasis" on employers who cannot recruit.

Mr O'Leary was reacting to a claim by PayPal that it has been forced to "import" half its language staff from 19 other countries because suitable candidates cannot be found here. The online payment giant, which already employs 1,400, announced plans to recruit 1,000 workers earlier this year.

Global operations vice-president Louise Phelan warned that we needed to focus on language skills to protect our status as a European gateway.

She said the country was suffering from a "deficiency" of staff with second languages.

Reacting yesterday, Mr O'Leary said it was "important to try and see who has recruited and how many people they have recruited".

"There tends to be an over-emphasis on who couldn't recruit," he said at a Dail Committee hearing.

"I think, sure it's challenging (to find workers with foreign languages)," he said.

Mr O'Leary said more needed to be done to improve certain skills as all the jobs coming into Ireland from multinationals over the next four or five years would have a technology or language requirement.

He said most employers looking for language skills wanted "native or equivalent" skills.

As a result, they were looking for foreign nationals living in Ireland, Irish people living abroad, and Irish people who have studied linguistics abroad.

He said all jobs that were brought here generated income for the economy, for example if foreign staff rented apartments and spent their earnings here.

"PayPal is going to create 1,000 jobs," he said. "If you had 500 people who were Irish and 500 people who were brought in, that's 1,000 people.

"The impact on the economy is between 700 and another 1,000 workers locally.

"In the worst case scenario, there's a huge number of benefits.''

Mr O'Leary said LinkedIn had "nobody" here two years ago, but now employed over 200 people.

"The important thing is, can you get the people in Ireland or at least if you can't get them in Ireland, can you bring them in, or a combination of both?"

Irish Independent

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