Thousands attend jobs fair


Almost 8,000 jobseekers attended an overseas jobs fair in the RDS in Dublin at the weekend, looking for information on opportunities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East.

Hundreds of people began queuing outside the venue on both mornings, with the line stretching out the gate on Anglesea Road before the doors opened at 10am each day.

Attendance was down about 25 per cent over the weekend compared to the same event last March, when attendees queued for over three hours to get in and many people were turned away.

More than 70 exhibitors had stands at the fair, including employers, recruiters and government officials from English-speaking countries looking to lure highly-skilled Irish workers.

Four government-led delegations attended from Canada alone, which included 30 construction companies looking to fill thousands of vacancies.

Mary Moran of Calgary Economic Development in central Canada said the fair had "far exceeded everyone's expectations".

"Irish workers are a very good match for Canadian companies. They have the skills we need, are similarly educated to Canadian employees and there's no language barrier."

The ten companies present from Calgary were looking to fill over 2,000 positions in construction, healthcare and the oil and gas industry.

Genie Everett of Behlen Industries, one of eight manufacturing companies in attendance from Manitoba who came to Ireland, said the standard of applicants had been very high.

"We came to hire welders. We were very sceptical before we came and thought we would just collect some resumes. But the people who have come to see us here are so highly qualified and experienced that we have set up welding tests and interviews on the spot," she said.

"We came thinking we would be delighted to fill 15 positions, but we have enough strong applicants to take on 20."

Speaking at a seminar on working in Canada yesterday, the Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney said young Irish people could gain valuable experience in his country and bring back the skills they have learned to help to rebuild the Irish economy.

The number of Canadian working holiday visas available to Irish people is to double to 10,700 and the length of stay extended from one year to two under a new agreement signed between Mr Kenney and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore on Friday.

Beca, one of the leading engineering consultancies in the southern hemisphere, was at the fair to hire engineers to help with the rebuild of Christchurch in New Zealand after two major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, while Australian employers met candidates for positions in healthcare, engineering, hospitality and construction.

David Walsh, organiser of the Working Abroad Expo, said the demographic of attendees has changed drastically since its inception in 2005 as a backpacker fair aimed at school-leavers and graduates going on working holiday visas to Australia and the US.

"It has become much more jobs focused," he said. "There are a lot more families coming now, and older people who can't find work here in Ireland."

Shauna Flynn (29), a beauty therapist who was at the fair today with her daughter Amy (5) and her partner Alan Taylor (25), said Australia or Canada could offer the family a much better quality of life than Ireland.

"We are both finishing business degrees this year, but there are no job opportunities for us after we graduate," she said.

"We came in the door today with Canada in mind, but we're leaving thinking about Australia. It is a tough decision to make to leave, but Amy is still young enough to do it now, and we know the lifestyle will be much better for us all."