Thursday 22 March 2018

Lise Hand: A little less 'Plan' and a lot more 'Action' needed to tackle jobs crisis

Lise Hand

Lise Hand

ONE can't perambulate around the corridors of power these days without tripping over a government wheeze for job creation: Action Plan for Jobs, JobsPlus, JobBridge, Pathways To Work and so on. But while a beady eye may be cast at the efficacy of some of these schemes, one of the better brainwaves is ConnectIreland.

This initiative encourages people to find international companies that are thinking about investing overseas. If the company comes here, the Government will pay the finder a fee of €1,500 for every job created in Ireland as a result of the introduction. It's devilishly clever, as it taps into the average Irish person's fondness for striking up conversations with strangers.

Which is how Kieran Leavy found himself at a press conference in Dublin yesterday with the Taoiseach, the Jobs Minister and the head of a Detroit-based firm.

The Magni Group was planning to open a facility in Portugal, but Kieran learnt about ConnectIreland at a talk at the GAA Congress last year and contacted one of the company's executives, Ted Berry, who he befriended in Ireland, and suggested he open a premises here instead.

Ted told him that he would have to talk to the company's founder, his father David, so Kieran jumped on a plane to Detroit the following morning and turned up on his doorstep, whereupon an impressed boss agreed to get in touch with ConnectIreland.

And so the Magni Group is expanding into Laois-Offaly, 50 jobs are being created, and businessman Kieran is pocketing €75,000. Ted said: "It's a humbling experience – we're located in 25 locations and I cannot emphasise how unusual this reception is," adding they chose Ireland because "this is a country that wants us to be here".

For the Taoiseach, who was at the Magni Group announcement, yesterday was all about jobs as he, Richard Bruton and Eamon Gilmore unveiled the sixth progress report of the Action Plan for Jobs – in a nutshell: a bit done, a lot more to do.

Before the press conference in the Marker Hotel on Grand Canal Dock, the trio ascended to the rooftop bar of the new hotel for a photo op, and gaped at the spectacular 360-degree view of the city. But there was one once-familiar element missing in the panorama: there wasn't a single crane to be seen.

ConnectIreland is small-scale stuff. Some serious political brainpower is required to tackle the huge dole queues. A little less Plan, a lot more Action.

Irish Independent

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