Regional Shows

Jan 12

Saskatchewan Jobs Mission To Ireland

Provinces are competing with each other for skilled labour from Ireland, a sign Canada’s labour strategy isn’t keeping up with demand.

Saskatchewan Jobs Mission To Ireland: Canada’s Labour Market Not Keeping Up With Needed Skills

As worldwide demand for skilled labour heats up, provincial governments are increasingly looking outside Canada’s borders, competing with countries like Australia and Germany for desperately needed tradespeople, engineers and medical professionals. But as the provinces embark on overseas recruitment drives, some of their stiffest competition may, in fact, be each other.

In the coming weeks, officials in Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration expect to finalize plans for a possible recruitment mission to Ireland in March. If the trip goes ahead, Saskatchewan will become the fifth Canadian province in as many months to descend on the recession-battered Emerald Isle, where, after a stunning reversal of the country’s fortunes, hordes of unemployed young people are once again leaving in droves.

The fight for Irish workers is a glimpse, say some, of a growing inter-provincial battle.

“Within the Canadian context, there is going to be increasing competition … between provinces for talent,” says Saskatchewan Minister Rob Norris, whose office is organizing the mission — and preparing to sell the “Saskatchewan story” to Irish workers who may have already been sold on another Canadian narrative.

In November, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island embarked on a joint recruitment drive to Ireland, conducting job fairs in Cork and Dublin, the same cities that Saskatchewan officials are planning to visit.

“We welcome those conversations, because Saskatchewan is a compelling story,” says Norris. “This is a big land for big people with big ideas.”

Norris has had some practice making the pitch: in 2008, his office embarked on its first overseas recruitment drives, making two separate trips to both the Philippines and Ukraine.

Selling prospective foreign workers on what a particular province has to offer is also something Alberta has become accustomed to doing.

Since 2007, the oil-producing province has attended numerous job fairs in the U.K. and the U.S., and embarked on several minister-led missions — everywhere from Germany to Australia and Asia — to fill labour shortages in various sectors. In November, Alberta targeted the oil and gas industries with a virtual job expo, during which 3,500 resumes were uploaded.

Though Sonia Sinha, spokeswoman for Alberta Employment and Immigration, says that other countries are the province’s primary competitors, she concedes that efforts are made to distinguish Alberta from its Canadian counterparts.

“We are obviously promoting Alberta above any other province,” she says. “We say that Alberta has an amazing quality of life. We have the lowest overall taxes, great education, great health care and great opportunity for growth.”

According to Deborah Bayer, spokeswoman for Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, the Atlantic mission to Ireland, which was funded mainly by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), targeted workers to fill positions in IT, agriculture, engineering and trades.

“Ireland is a rich source of skilled potential job seekers who can fill the staffing demands of certain key sectors in Atlantic Canada,” she said in an e-mail, pointing to the historical connections to Ireland and relative proximity as particular advantages.

Though Bayer said it was “too soon to measure the success of the trip,” she described the response as “positive.”

“Numerous resumes were collected, and employers are currently in the process of going through their contacts and resumes to ensure they meet the employers’ needs,” she wrote.

Rosemary Venne, a labour expert at the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business, says the inter-provincial contest for foreign workers is a natural extension of the battle that has been mounting at home in recent years, which has seen provinces target economically battered regions to “brain drain” each other’s skilled workers.

“It’s not surprising that they would be in competition for Ireland. There’s probably a huge swell of young people who aren’t able to get jobs, and who are thinking about leaving — and these would be educated young people that any country would want” she says. “I think that every province might be scrambling for them a bit.”

Over the past two years, reports indicate that about 10,000 Irish have emigrated to Canada.

In Saskatchewan, Norris says the buzz around recruiting Irish workers through the provincial nominee program has been growing over the last 18 months, in part, because of the country’s “highly respected post-secondary education system.”

He says that about a dozen employers have so far expressed interest in participating in the trip, which he estimates would cost between $75,000 and $100,000.

To be sure, both Canadian regions face significant labour challenges.

In Nova Scotia, the issue is aging population, with the number of working age residents expected to decline by 47,000 over the next decade.

Saskatchewan’s skilled labour crunch, meanwhile, is the result of a booming economy on the heels of decades of stagnating population numbers. In 2011, officials say the number of jobs posted on, the government-sponsored jobs portal, increased by 39,000 positions over the previous year, bringing the total number of vacancies to 150,000.

In December, there were a record number of people employed in Saskatchewan — and it appears a growing number of Irish would like to count themselves among them. According to officials, last year web traffic from Ireland to increased by 60 per cent over 2010.

All of which explains why Norris doesn’t believe the Atlantic trip will detract from the one his office is planning.

“The level of interest in this mission is the one factor that has pleasantly surprised me,” he says, noting the abundance of e-mails his office has received from interested parties in Saskatchewan and Ireland offering contacts and tips.

“I haven’t seen any suggesting that this is anything other than a worthy endeavour,” he says. “What we see anecdotaly and hear about is increasing interest, more than anything.”

But Hugh Mackenzie, researcher for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, questions the wisdom of focusing so many disparate Canadian recruitment efforts on one country.

He says the desperate need for workers “really underlines the huge failure in Canada’s skilled-trade training system” — and the absence of a coherent strategy to address it.

“This would be a little bit different if it was a surprise that we needed all these skilled people, but it’s not,” he says. “The fact that we have no national labour force development strategy … is a huge problem because it results in a lot of duplication of effort, it results in a lot of competition, it results in a lack of coordination.”

According to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, however, a regional approach to overseas recruitment makes sense.

“The Government of Canada believes that the provinces and territories are best placed to determine what is required to meet their specific labour market needs, including meeting their particular labour force needs as they differ across the country,” the communications department said in an e-mail.

For his part, Norris maintains that overseas recruitment efforts — which could in the future extend to Greece and the U.S. — are only one part of Saskatchewan’s strategy to address the growing talent challenge. The approach, he says, includes “record investment” in post-secondary education, and programs targeted specifically at the First Nations population.

“With any post-secondary or skills training endeavour, there’s a time component,” he says. “For employers, they need individuals right now.”

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Jan 12

€600,000 Available for Top Three in Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Competition

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland launched its 2012 Awards Programme yesterday, announcing a €600,000 fund for its top three candidates.

The judges are seeking applicants with innovative ideas aimed at tackling social and environmental issues in Ireland.

The selection process will include a ‘boot camp’ in March where applicants will be asked to present their ideas, of which eight applicants will be chosen for the next round of the competition.

The eight chosen will participate in a three month ‘Finalist Programme’ where they will receive funding and support before the grand final in October.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Chief Executive Sean Coughlan said: “In previous years we have been overwhelmed by the calibre of applications we have received, and we expect 2012 to reveal even better applicants.

“The main criteria is a passion for making a difference, thinking big and using business skills for social change.

“We really believe that together we can change Ireland and the impact of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland over the past seven years has proved that”.

Last years top prize went to Sean Loves’ Fighting Words, a joint venture between Sean Love and Roddy Doyle.

In its two-year history, it has enlisted help from over 400 volunteers to host writing workshops for some 26,000 students of all ages.

The main areas of focus are creative writing, film making, graphic novels and song writing.

In second place was GIY Ireland, a wellbeing organisation that teaches people the skills to grow their own food.

Founder of GIY Ireland Michael Kelly said: “The support from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has been a game-changer for GIY Ireland.

“I’ve always felt that being involved with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is like having access to the mothership of all motherships.

“The Impact Programme challenges me at every turn, makes me work smarter and think bigger.

“It inspires, rewards and connects us up with an incredible array of leading experts and advisors”.

The closing date for applications is Thursday 16 February 2012.

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Dec 11

Irish Exports at Record Levels. Great news to finish up 2011!

Exports are at record levels. This is according to the end of year statement by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government’s agency with responsibility for exports. Great news to finish up 2011!

In the face of tough economic conditions, Irish companies have increased their exports and are confident that they can increase export sales in 2012. This renewed confidence will help significantly in targeting new opportunities in international markets.

Enterprise Ireland estimates that client companies’ export sales grew in 2011 and that the final export figures will exceed the pre-recession record levels of 2008. ‘New export sales’ in excess of €1 billion are expected to be recorded for 2011.

Throughout the year, Irish companies faced severe global economic conditions head on.  They have emerged leaner, stronger and with a greater appetite for international growth than ever before – something that World Trade Centre Dublin is extremely encouraged to see.

Not only are exports up but employment in client companies stabilised this year.  Total employment (full and part time) in Enterprise Ireland client companies stood at 162,692 in 2011.  Of these, 141,228 are full-time jobs – a similar number to last year while 21,464 are part-time jobs – a slight increase on last year.

The World economy is predicted to grow moderately in 2012 and this is important because it offers opportunities for Irish companies to increase exports which sustain and create employment in Ireland.

During 2011 Enterprise Ireland continued to focus its human and financial resources on driving exports, innovation and improving competitiveness.  A number of new initiatives were introduced in direct response to the demands of entrepreneurs and client companies including;

• Competitive Start Funds for very early stage entrepreneurs – €50k per start-up – 55 start-ups supported

• €10m International Fund for attracting entrepreneurs from overseas

• Graduates 4 International Growth programme saw 120 graduates placed with Irish companies all over the world.

• Leadership training for Chief Financial Officers

• Staff resources in key markets were re-aligned to maximise impact in key ‘first time export’ and High Growth Markets.

• Enterprise Ireland also opened its first office in South Africa

So what will be new in 2012? Enterprise Ireland plans to move rapidly in implementing the Government’s planned Jobs Strategy.  They will continue to focus on lean programmes to increase clients’ competitiveness; they will continue to increase numbers of High Potential Start Ups from within Ireland and from overseas and they have promised they will continue to help companies win business overseas in both established and high growth markets. Looking forward to it!

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Oct 11

Ulster Bank launches series for SMEs and entrepreneurs on trading internationally

SMEs and entrepreneurs from across the island of Ireland are being invited to think global by Ulster Bank as part of a series of  events starting in November. They’ll hear that trading outside of their home market is easier than many think and even just engaging in cross-border trade can open up significant new opportunities for businesses who have reached full growth in their existing market.

The ‘Business Live’ series features 14 dates across the island of Ireland between November and March 2012. The events, which are free of charge to attend, will centre around an informal panel discussion chaired by entrepreneur Fionan Murray, and will feature the opportunity for questions, networking and the chance to engage one-to-one with experts from Ulster Bank and other organisations, including InterTradeIreland.

On stage will be entrepreneurs who are trading successfully cross-border and internationally to share and discuss their experiences, mistakes and accomplishments with the audience of would-be, emerging and established exporters, importers and cross-border traders.

See more details……

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Oct 11

Entrepreneurs and investors urged to ‘kick start’ economic growth in the Midlands

ALMOST 100 investors and entrepreneurs attended Midlands Gateway Chamber’s launch of the Lir Investors business angel network in the Mullingar Park Hotel last Monday night.

Attendees on the night heard from Ray Byrne, the President of the Midlands Gateway Chamber, who spoke about the importance of supporting businesses in the Midlands and in particular, the newly formed Lir Investors.

Mullingar Ironman Gerry Duffy gave an inspiring talk about how business people can achieve personal and business goals by performing to an outstanding standard and by harnessing the power of positive thinking. Diane Roberts, national director of the Halo Business Angels Network (HBAN), spoke about the work HBAN do with six angel networks around the country and about the support the organisation can offer to investors and entrepreneurs.

Andrew Dunne from Kidspotter told of his experience in getting funding from a business angel network and how it enabled him to grow his business and export worldwide. Andrew stated that angel networks are the best form of funding available to businesses in Ireland today. See More Detail……

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Sep 11

330 new jobs for Belfast business services firm Capita

Belfast-based business services company Capita is creating more than 330 new jobs.

The firm does the back office and customer service work for big financial companies like Prudential and Aviva.

Invest Northern Ireland is helping provide £1m funding for the project.

Capita currently employs 130 people at the Clarendon Dock office in Belfast and hope to increase that to more than 400 in the coming three years.  See More……..

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