FAS considers overseas offices


FAS may set up full-time offices in South Africa, Russia and the Czech Republic to recruit workers, its spokesman has said.

The State training body has commissioned an internal study on the feasibility of such a plan. Initial discussions at an employers' focus group suggested they would be willing to co-fund such offices.

As FAS concluded its latest overseas Jobs Ireland fair - in Johannesburg - the spokesman said a decision was expected in January. Offices could be set up next spring, he added.

Such was the interest in the Johannesburg fair that it was expected to provide FAS with details on 40,000 potential workers from South Africa. Almost 20,000 people attended a Jobs Ireland fair in Cape Town the weekend before last and 15,000 attended the fair in Johannesburg which ended last Thursday.

"Obviously the next stage is establishing full-time offices," said the spokesman.

Such offices, with local staff, could be used to screen applicants, organise interviews and issue work permits to people who sought work in the Republic. A South Africa-based office on this model would cost £40,000 (€50,789) each year, he added.

The body had details of more than 4,000 workers in Prague, where it mounted a Jobs Ireland fair in October.

There are 40,000 vacancies in the Republic's jobs market and the Tanaiste, Ms Harney, has said about 200,000 new non-EU workers will be needed by 2006.

FAS will mount another Jobs Ireland fair in London before the end of the year. A visit to Moscow is planned for March.

The spokesman reported strong interest in the Johannesburg fair, at which 16 Irish based companies sought staff. Firms seeking staff included IT firms Intel and IBM; AIB, Bank of Ireland; the national grid company, EirGrid, and the Jurys Doyle hotel group.