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Overseas workers ‘don’t trust’ construction sector, builder says
Lingering doubts about the long-term sustainability of the Irish construction sector is thwarting efforts to recruit overseas workers, a major building company has said.
The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has warned the Republic will need an influx of foreign workers to meet housing targets. It also cautioned that the shortage may, in the short term, add to rental pressures and housing demand.
The number of new homes built this year is expected to be about 19,000, but demand is closer to 30,000.
Collen Construction, which has been in business for more than 200 years and worked on projects for a range of clients from large multinationals to local authorities, said the situation was serious.
“It’s absolutely critical that we get more people back, whether they are Irish who left or people currently living abroad who have skills,” managing director Tommy Drumm said.
“I’m interviewing an Irish guy living in Estonia tomorrow. I’m currently talking to a project manager in Doha, a project manager in Sydney, an engineer in Turkey, and a logistics expert in Australia. We need to look overseas to fill these posts.
“We can’t get civil engineers. They’re extremely difficult to find. Particularly electrical co-ordinators are very difficult to find at the moment. Health-and-safety advisers are the same. There is serious pressure on trades like plastering and tiling as well.”
Not about money
Mr Drumm said money does not tend to be a problem when negotiating with potential recruits, but that concerns remain over the health of the sector following decades of boom-bust cycles.
“The key is the sense that if you come back, will the job that you take be sustainable or will it be a short-term situation,” he said. “The Irish construction sector has been cyclical. Every decade there’s been a downturn over the last 40 years.
“It’s a brave decision to make the move, pull the family and come back, maybe feeling will the Irish construction sector peak any time soon and will they find themselves in a similar situation.
“It’s a fine balance to build the confidence of those people you are interviewing, maybe by Skype. Christmas is a big time for people coming back home, so we’re trying to track people down and get them to come into us for interviews over the holidays.
“First of all, you’ve got to sell your company to them. They’re interviewing you as much as you’re interviewing them, certainly with millennials. Generally money won’t be a deal-breaker.”
Mr Drumm’s sentiments were echoed by house builder Glenveagh Properties, which said it had recently instigated an advertising campaign at Dublin Airport targeted at “highly skilled people with experience in construction and related fields” who are overseas.
Glenveagh chief executive Justin Bickle said the campaign has been “very effective” in helping it to recruit staff.
Work permits
Construction Industry Federation director general Tom Parlon said the lobby group had written to the Government seeking a relaxation of rules surrounding work permits.
“It is inevitable that we will need migration from outside of Ireland to provide skills,” he said. “We have made an application to change the work-permit situation to allow for people who have construction-related skills to come into the country.
“Recruiters are telling us it is difficult to get people from the European Economic Area. They don’t seem to be willing to travel. I was just with a major construction company that has been looking in Spain but is finding it very difficult. There’s big unemployment there but we just can’t find people.
“The feedback here is that we need to go further to find people and we’re competing against other countries. Is there any incentive? Not that I’m aware of.”
Shane Walsh, a project manager with Rossmore Civil Engineering, returned to the State three years ago after leaving for Australia eight years earlier for a one-year working holiday.
“The remuneration was always good in Australia,” he said. “Your transport was included. You got a good wage, but you really worked hard for it. I don’t think I could have found work in Ireland at the time.”
Mr Walsh said he decided to return home after starting a family, which was a “big challenge”, but he found new work “pretty quickly”.
https://www.irishtimes.com/business/construction/overseas-workers-don-t-trust-construction-sector-builder-says-1.3706093
Published inIndustry News
October sees highest ever month of job announcements in Limerick
Limerick’s dramatic resurgence as one of the nation’s fastest-growing economic hubs continues as October saw record-breaking results in jobs and over €80 million in investment.
The announcement of 935 jobs in October was the highest in any one month period to date, and the total jobs announced in Limerick so far this year has already reached a five year high of 3,022.
Since the 2013 launch of Limerick 2030 Vision: An Economic and Spatial Plan -the successful local authority framework/blueprint for rebuilding the city and county - a total of 15,750 jobs have been announced.
Not alone is the labour market showing strong signs of improvement, the physical revitalisation of the city centre is well underway with the development of key projects under Limerick Twenty Thirty, the special purpose vehicle established by the local authority to help drive the renaissance. Troy Studios, the first project, is up and running and its first major rebuild, Gardens International on Henry Street, is near completion and with its first tenant, Nordic Aviation Capital, set to take up tenancy in the new year.
Another major cause for celebration is the strong investment of €517.3 million seen so far this year.
October also saw what has been one of the most exciting announcements in recent years for the city as Edwards Lifesciences Corporation revealed it has chosen the National Technology Park, Castletroy, as the location for its new permanent facility.
The company, headquartered in Irvine, California, plans to complete the new 170,000 square feet facility by 2021. Once fully operational, it is expected to employ approximately 600 people with an investment in the project of around €80 million.
Limerick’s northside also received an exciting boost after a multi-million euro proposal to build a ‘Barack Obama Plaza’ style service station, creating up to 150 new jobs, was given the green light by An Bord Pleanala.
The development will be ideally located beside the Coonagh Roundabout and the Clondrinagh Business Park.
In further retail news, MACE opened a new 3,200sq.ft store on Thomas Street in Limerick city centre creating 30 jobs.
Telecommunications firm eir announced plans to create up to 120, mainly customer-service roles at their exchange in Roches Street.
In October, a total of 104 new planning applications were also received, including plans for two housing, 12 commercial and 14 sporting/community & educational developments.
Critically also, the current applications also include proposals for the construction of 17 residential units at Gough Place, Rosbrien Road, 30 at Pallas, Pallaskenry and 17 at Cuirt na hAbhann, Clarina.
Applications have also been received for the construction of a medical device manufacturing facility at Rivers, National Technology Park, Castletroy, and a logistics facility at Annacotty Industrial Estate.
Further positives for Limerick include the continued upsurge in online engagement between the public and Limerick City and County Council, with 131,007 visitors to the Limerick.ie website in October – a 36% increase on the same period in 2017.
Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr James Collins said: “Limerick is the urban success story of the recovery. The key barometer for any region is jobs and in Limerick we have created over 15,000 full-time jobs since 2013.
"That’s unprecedented growth for Limerick and it is an exciting time for our city, county and the whole of the Mid-West. The future for Limerick City and County is as the economic driver of the Mid-West region. Limerick City and County Council and its stakeholders have worked hard to bring about the progress we are witnessing. We can be extremely positive about Limerick’s future."
https://www.limerick.ie/business/news-events/news/october-sees-highest-ever-month-job-announcements-limerick
Published inIndustry News
Irish firms are flying high in the US
When we think of our “special relationship” with the US, we often think of foreign direct investment flowing into Ireland, creating jobs and pumping money into the Irish economy. However, it is a two-way street and Ireland is now the ninth largest source of FDI to the US, with 800 companies employing more than 100,000 people, the value estimated at more than $85 billion.
In 2001, LotusWorks’ first employee went from Ireland to the US to provide technical support to a semi-conductor client the company had a strong relationship with in Ireland. It now has offices in Massachusetts and Washington state, employing 174 people.
“When we established the business in the US, we sought advice and received excellent support from Enterprise Ireland. Setting up the company in the US was administratively time-consuming but a lot can be achieved quickly. Our first step was to establish a US subsidiary, which is not complicated and can be done quickly. Finding and leasing the office space was no different than what is required in Ireland – there was paperwork but nothing more than we’d expected,” James Casey, operations director at LotusWorks says.
The US has a federal, state and local tax system and each state must be treated as its own entity, with separate procedures, regulations and tax levels.
“Initially, we registered the company for corporate tax in Massachusetts and as we expanded the business won work with new clients in other states, we registered LotusWorks in those states. Our Irish banking partners made recommendations and introductions for us to bank facilities in the US and helped us understand all the banking processes there.
“The US is a huge market – it’s English-speaking and we find it friendly and easy to do business there. Our business in the US has expanded rapidly, especially in the past three years and we see steady growth in the US continuing,” Casey says.
While opportunity is plentiful, there is also strong competition.
“We understand our niche service area and what we have the capacity to deliver, so we focus on specific opportunity across the US which is of a specific size and that will suit our business model and growth plans.
“We entered the US through an existing client relationship, so that significantly reduced our concern about expanding there and definitely reduced some of the barriers other companies have faced.”
Construction consultancy Linesight opened its first office in New York to support its growing US workforce and build on its existing client relationships and now employs 74 people. In 2016, it opened a second office in San Francisco, which currently has a team of 48.
Patrick Ryan, managing director of Linesight’s New York office says the Linesight story is a great example of how an Irish organisation can transform into a global enterprise, with the strategic support of Government agencies like Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.
‘A welcoming market’
“We’ve found the US to be a welcoming market for Irish business. There are a growing number of successful Irish-owned businesses thriving in the US and a strong networking community that is incredibly supportive.
“Our greatest challenge this year has been recruitment and we are seeing this on a global scale. We’ve established a number of educational and intern programmes in the US to develop the local skillset, which will support our growth long-term. We expect to grow our team by an additional 50 people next year, sourced by our dedicated recruitment team based in San Francisco – these will be a mix of local US citizens and Irish people looking to relocate,” Ryan says.
While a large proportion of Linesight’s employees are American, there is a strong Irish contingent in its US workforce.
“As there are currently no courses in the US training quantity surveyors, we are fortunate to have been validated by the US embassy in Dublin to allow us apply for E2 work visas for Irish citizens. Subject to an interview in the embassy, this allows us bring suitably qualified Irish citizens over to work in the US. We are also training US citizens who have qualified in other disciplines to become quantity surveyors under our graduate intern program,” Ryan says.
“The US is the second largest market for Irish investment, behind the UK,” says Alan Connell, partner and head of tax at Eversheds Sutherland. “Having regard to US tax reform and Brexit emphasising the need to identify new markets, it is of no surprise that more Irish companies are choosing, for future growth and sustainability, to do business with, and set up operations in, the US. We envisage that this trend will continue into 2019 and beyond.”
Reece Smyth, chargé d’affaires at the US embassy in Dublin, says this is an exciting time to do business in America.
“Our economy is outperforming expectations. We have adopted strong economic growth policies. A year ago, we introduced the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, drastically reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 per cent. Irish companies can now hold onto more profits to pay workers and to reinvest back into operations. The United States also has removed 22 regulations for every one regulation it created in 2017. This means companies can focus less on red tape and more on innovation, which is good news for everyone.
‘Ready access to capital’
“Irish businesses can find in America ready access to capital, inexpensive and plentiful energy, and vast natural resources. They also can benefit from a skilled, energised, and optimistic workforce and there are some 320 million potential consumers for products and services. Increased connectivity including new direct flights to Dallas and Minneapolis means that it’s easier than ever for Irish companies to invest and grow their businesses in the United States.”
To set up there, what are the fundamentals Irish companies should be aware of?
“Companies need to look to sectoral opportunities and the areas that Irish businesses are strong in, such as medical technology, financial technology, agricultural technology and digital technology,” Sean Davis, Enterprise Ireland’s regional director in North America, says.
“Ireland also needs to move towards a more ready activation of its Brexit strategy,” he says, “Particularly those companies that might be overly reliant on the UK.”
Being mindful of a “perceived familiarity” with the US because of Ireland’s exposure to American culture is also something to be cognisant of.
“It is very different and much more aggressive. They expect you to be moving forward, and what we would regard as pestering, they would regard as normal. In relation to culture, it changes as you move from east to west and sectors change, so medical tech and financial tech is strong on the east coast, but that becomes more about gaming and digital on the west coast. Attitudes also change,” he says.
In terms of the country’s geographical scale, Davis says it’s “impossible to chase customers from coast to coast”, as this will “wear you out physically and financially”.
But, with the right mix of components, product and talent, America is there for the taking.
https://www.irishtimes.com/special-reports/american-thanksgiving/irish-firms-are-flying-high-in-the-us-1.3702948#.W_bPOAtjVMg.linkedin
Published inIndustry News
Construction Industry Continues to Battle with Skills Shortages
Lingering doubts about the long-term sustainability of the Irish construction sector is thwarting efforts to recruit overseas workers, a major building company has said.
The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has warned the Republic will need an influx of foreign workers to meet housing targets. It also cautioned that the shortage may, in the short term, add to rental pressures and housing demand.
The number of new homes built this year is expected to be about 19,000, but demand is closer to 30,000.
Collen Construction, which has been in business for more than 200 years and worked on projects for a range of clients from large multinationals to local authorities, said the situation was serious.
“It’s absolutely critical that we get more people back, whether they are Irish who left or people currently living abroad who have skills,” managing director Tommy Drumm said.
“I’m interviewing an Irish guy living in Estonia tomorrow. I’m currently talking to a project manager in Doha, a project manager in Sydney, an engineer in Turkey, and a logistics expert in Australia. We need to look overseas to fill these posts.
“We can’t get civil engineers. They’re extremely difficult to find. Particularly electrical co-ordinators are very difficult to find at the moment. Health-and-safety advisers are the same. There is serious pressure on trades like plastering and tiling as well.
Not about money
Mr Drumm said money does not tend to be a problem when negotiating with potential recruits, but that concerns remain over the health of the sector following decades of boom-bust cycles.
“The key is the sense that if you come back, will the job that you take be sustainable or will it be a short-term situation,” he said. “The Irish construction sector has been cyclical. Every decade there’s been a downturn over the last 40 years.
“It’s a brave decision to make the move, pull the family and come back, maybe feeling will the Irish construction sector peak any time soon and will they find themselves in a similar situation.
“It’s a fine balance to build the confidence of those people you are interviewing, maybe by Skype. Christmas is a big time for people coming back home, so we’re trying to track people down and get them to come into us for interviews over the holidays.
“First of all, you’ve got to sell your company to them. They’re interviewing you as much as you’re interviewing them, certainly with millennials. Generally money won’t be a deal-breaker.”
Mr Drumm’s sentiments were echoed by house builder Glenveagh Properties, which said it had recently instigated an advertising campaign at Dublin Airport targeted at “highly skilled people with experience in construction and related fields” who are overseas.
Glenveagh chief executive Justin Bickle said the campaign has been “very effective” in helping it to recruit staff.
Work permits
Construction Industry Federation director general Tom Parlon said the lobby group had written to the Government seeking a relaxation of rules surrounding work permits.
“It is inevitable that we will need migration from outside of Ireland to provide skills,” he said. “We have made an application to change the work-permit situation to allow for people who have construction-related skills to come into the country.
“Recruiters are telling us it is difficult to get people from the European Economic Area. They don’t seem to be willing to travel. I was just with a major construction company that has been looking in Spain but is finding it very difficult. There’s big unemployment there but we just can’t find people.
“The feedback here is that we need to go further to find people and we’re competing against other countries. Is there any incentive? Not that I’m aware of.”
Shane Walsh, a project manager with Rossmore Civil Engineering, returned to the State three years ago after leaving for Australia eight years earlier for a one-year working holiday.
“The remuneration was always good in Australia,” he said. “Your transport was included. You got a good wage, but you really worked hard for it. I don’t think I could have found work in Ireland at the time.”
Mr Walsh said he decided to return home after starting a family, which was a “big challenge”, but he found new work “pretty quickly”.
REF: Irish TImes
http://www.constructionnetworkireland.com/construction-industry-continues-battle-skills-shortages/
Published inIndustry News
Facebook reaffirms commitment to Ireland

Facebook has announced that it is expanding its investment in Ireland by acquiring a long-term lease of 14 acres for a new campus development in the heart of Ballsbridge in Dublin 4; the premises known as the Bank Centre currently occupied by AIB. The move will see Facebook quadruple its current floorspace to 870,000 square foot across a number of buildings with capacity for an additional 5,000 employees. Last year, marking its ninth year in the Ireland, Facebook opened its third office, the Samuel Beckett Building in East Point and announced that it would create hundreds of new jobs. By the end of 2018, there will be over 4,000 people working for Facebook in Ireland, across its four locations – Facebook’s International Headquarters in Grand Canal Square, Samuel Beckett Building in Dublin 3, Clonee Data Centre in Meath and Facebook Reality Labs in Cork.

Ireland is critically important to Facebook and plays a central role in its global operations as home to over 60 teams including engineers, safety experts, legal professionals, policy experts, marketing and sales teams covering many facets of the social network. A number of global and regional teams are run out of Ireland including the global gaming team, and the team that helps small, medium sized business across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) connect with customers. The infrastructure engineering for EMEA is also based in Ireland, this team oversees infrastructure operations across Europe, Middle East and Africa ensuring Facebook’s data centres and networks continue to run and give people around the world the power to build community and connect with friends and family.

Gareth Lambe, Head of Facebook Ireland said: “Ireland is one of the best places in the world to be a technology company and we’re investing here for the long term. By the end of the year we’ll employ more than 4,000 people across four sites in Ireland working on our family of apps including Facebook, Instagram, Whats App and Oculus. This significant investment in a 14-acre campus with capacity for thousands more employees demonstrates our commitment to Ireland, our desire to grow our business here and continue to contribute to the economy.”

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys commented, “The acquisition of this new campus is a landmark day for Facebook, which established its International HQ in Dublin in December 2008 and has expanded significantly in Ireland over the last 3-4 years. Without a doubt, this expansion is a huge vote of confidence in Ireland and our pro-enterprise policies. Above all, it is a testament to the calibre of our rich pool of talent, who have contributed so positively to the company’s global growth in the last decade.”

Facebook’s Clonee Data Centre also recently launched it’s Community Action Grant programme in Meath to support community projects related to culture or technology. The programme is inviting applications that address community needs by putting the power of technology to use for community benefit, improving local STEM education or connecting people on or offline. Interested applicants can apply on the Clonee Data Center Facebook Page.

https://www.irishbuildingmagazine.ie/2018/11/08/facebook-reaffirms-its-commitment-to-ireland/

Published inIndustry News
400 jobs to be created by Chinese biomanufacturing company in Dundalk
400 new jobs will be created in Dundalk over the next five years at a new bimanufacturing facility in the town.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced this morning that WuXi Biologics, a Chinese biomanufacturing company, will create the jobs as part of a €325m investment in the new biologics drug substance manufacturing facility.
Headquartered in Wuxi City, China, WuXi Biologics provides end-to-end solutions for biologics with a mission to accelerate and transform biologics discovery, development and manufacturing to benefit patients around the world.
The Dundalk facility will be the largest one in the world to operate single-use bioreactors
The manufacturing project is the company’s first site outside of China and will be based on the Industrial Development Authority’s (IDA) greenfield site in Mullagharlinis.
Speaking at today’s announcement in Dundalk, Mr Varadkar said: “This is the start of something special. We will see the Factory of the Future, right here in Dundalk. It’s the first sizable Greenfield project from China in the pharma sector and I am delighted to see it located here in Dundalk.
"It’s also the latest in a number of investments in this town which has become a hub for a range of sectors, mainly in the new knowledge based and pharmaceutical sectors."
Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation, Heather Humphreys also welcomed the announcement, saying: "This huge €325 million investment is a great vote of confidence in Ireland and reinforces our image as a global centre of excellence in Biologics.
"This investment will result in the creation of over 400 highly skilled jobs over 5 years as well as approximately 700 construction jobs."
https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/business/400-jobs-to-be-created-by-chinese-biomanufacturing-company-in-dundalk-840019.html
Published inIndustry News
EirGrid ensuring Ireland leading the way in renewable electricity
While the climate change debate in Ireland may be dominated by this country’s poor performance in meeting targets set for it by EU and international agreements, this disguises the fact that we are in fact global leaders when it comes to incorporating renewables on the electricity grid.
While the target for electricity is to have 40 per cent generated by renewable sources by 2020, the grid often runs with 65 per cent from those sources. “No one else in the world is achieving that,” says Jon O’Sullivan, innovation manager with EirGrid. “And we are now looking at increasing that to 75 per cent.”
The difficulties in terms of variability and reliability presented by renewable energy sources are well documented. The wind doesn’t blow all the time and the sunshine is certainly not guaranteed in Ireland. This means the network has to have reserve capacity available to it should supply from renewable sources drop.
Resilience
But that is not the only problem. The other problem is resilience. Most people are blissfully unaware of the fact that there are actually two components to the power generated by conventional electricity stations. The first is the electrical energy we are familiar with, the second is known as the reactive component. In very crude terms, this is the bit that drives it through the wires of the transmission network.
O’Sullivan describes it as the glue that holds the network together.
The problem with renewable energy is that it doesn’t contain that component. Because it is generated using electronic rather than electro-magnetic generation, it is fundamentally different to conventional power.
Mixing the two is not an issue at low levels as the system still has enough reactive power to cope. When you get to levels of 65 per cent and above, however, you start to run into real problems. This means that a number of renewable energy suppliers cannot sell to the grid as their technologies are deemed unproven or not to meet current standards and compliance requirements.
New technologies
EirGrid has responded by developing a novel and efficient trial process for renewable energy suppliers to qualify to supply services to the grid. The qualification trials process ran for six months in 2017 and focused on three key areas – the provision of reserve capacity which is available instantly should renewable or other sources drop out, the provision of what is known as ramping power which can be called up in a matter of hours, and services which address the reactive power issue.
The process has seen a number of new technologies demonstrate their ability to provide services and contribute to the security of the system, deliver consumer value for money, and facilitate the reduction in carbon emissions and further deployment of renewable technologies.
This will facilitate the growth from 65 per cent to 75 per cent renewables capacity on the grid by 2020. “There isn’t another power system in the world that can do that,” says O’Sullivan.
https://www.irishtimes.com/business/innovation/eirgrid-ensuring-ireland-leading-the-way-in-renewable-electricity-1.3655380
Published inIndustry News

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