High earner: ‘Multinationals are being sold a lie about skilled employees’

Meet the Voters: Jerry Kennelly sold two stock photography firms for $135m in 2006

Entrepreneur Jerry Kennelly: wants the next government to find ways to ensure the unemployed are motivated to join the workforce.

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I am the chief executive of Tweak, a company that provides design services to online printers in seven languages, and I live outside Killorglin, Co Kerry.

Our team consists about 25 people in Ireland and abroad. Our markets are international with customers in Europe, north and south America.

My biggest work-related challenge is time. Making our goals a reality while not becoming a slave to work.

In my view the environment in Ireland for entrepreneurs is positive and supportive.


However, from an infrastructural point of view, we are selling a lie. There is a serious dearth of people with the right skills for the type of companies being created here.

And it is being frustrated by multinationals who are also being sold a lie about plentiful employees with relevant skills.

The reality is we are having to fly the talent in from abroad which is a real lost opportunity for Ireland.

There is also a disconnect between the education system and the skills that our citizens need.

This is a huge factor for all technology-related business and it is being ignored. Most of the new roles are filled from, or contracted abroad.

In hiring rounds only 20 per cent of the candidates are Irish. That is why Dublin is becoming so diverse, technology companies are hiring in skilled staff from abroad.

If there was an election tomorrow I would vote for the candidates who would strike the balance right between being a national legislator and delivering a fair slice of the cake for our locality. At the moment, I have no preference for any candidate.

For me, the key issues in the election are ensuring the unemployed become highly motivated to become part of the workforce, to end the rot that successive governments have created.

Time is what it is all about and those out of work have tome. The absence of a motivational factor, and the knock-on societal and multi-generational consequences, is a huge issue.

Another is the creation of a real infrastructure around the entrepreneur, a practical appreciation of the risk that is being taken.

I would also like to see government at all levels getting its act together to deliver a service level agreement that inflicts pain both ways if there is failure to deliver.

For example, if a state service provider fails to provide the service, or does it late, they do not pay compensation or reimburse you. There there are pretty onerous obligations on the entrepreneur when it comes to dealing with local authorities, regulatory authorities or the Revenue Commissioners. If we want to encourage independence and entrepreneurship, then those obligations should be mutual.

I will vote but I have no interest in politics per se or the personalities and bickering. I do have a real interest in what is happening in our country. I get most of my news from Radio, newspapers, TV and occasionally online.

Constituency: Kerry

Jerry Kennelly was in conversation with David Labanyi

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