US firms have 2,500 vacancies


US COMPANIES in Ireland have more than 2,500 job vacancies, a new survey has found.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland’s annual workforce activation survey, which tracks employment trends in US firms here, shows that, of 195 US companies that responded to the survey, 75 per cent are hiring.

With vacancies in areas such as ICT, pharmaceuticals and medical technology, just 55 per cent of firms said they could fill all their vacancies in Ireland.

Speaking at the chamber’s annual Independence Day lunch yesterday, attended by US ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney, the president of the chamber and IBM Ireland general manager Peter O’Neill called on Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn to make science a compulsory subject, at least until Junior Cert level.

Mr O’Neill described a proposal to ring-fence over half of all teaching hours for English, Irish and maths as “a concern”.

“A reduction in student access to science at junior cycle is likely to reduce the number in a position to consider taking science at senior cycle with a consequent impact for uptake at third level,” he said.

Mr O’Neill said that while there had been 40 investment announcements by US companies in Ireland so far this year – an investment in the Irish economy worth about $2 billion (€1.6 billion) – he said “Ireland cannot afford to be complacent” on the quality of its workforce.

Also speaking at the lunch, which was attended by 400 representatives of the US multinational community in Ireland, Mr Rooney echoed Mr O’Neill’s words, saying: “Education is the key to investment. Ireland must commit to educating its workforce.”

Looking back on his three-year tenure as ambassador, Mr Rooney said Ireland had “turned a corner”, and he was “fully confident that Ireland is on the right track”.

“As ambassador, I want to tell you how pleased I am that American companies haven’t abandoned Ireland during the past couple of years,” he said.

In the past year alone, US firms were behind almost 40 per cent of all offices bought or leased in Ireland, Mr Rooney added.