Cork housing shortage threatens foreign investment

By Pádraig Hoare

Cork could lose out on foreign direct investment because of the escalating housing shortage. And recruitment firms are effectively becoming estate agents, charged with finding homes for new talent, a jobs recruiter has warned.

Paddy O’Connell, managing director of Cork-headquartered Berkley Group, which works with a range of multinationals in the tech, engineering and life sciences sectors, said the lack of housing for the burgeoning workforce was now an urgent problem.

“I talk to CEOs and heads of operations on a weekly basis and this is a common theme running through conversations. In the last two months alone, there are a number people coming to the country and renting through Airbnb, and significant challenges in finding accommodation.

“One company hired talent who left after two months because he could not find suitable accommodation.”

He said individuals from EU countries were “disturbed at the lack of security of tenure in rental accommodation”, and that protections for renting were not being communicated effectively.

“We are fantastic as a nation advertising our quality of life and suitability for investment and talent, but we have to close the loop as to where we are going to house people.

“When you have vice presidents or heads of operations talking about the challenges of getting housing for their own staff, it is only a matter of time before we miss out to competitive cities,” Mr O’Connell said.

He said recruitment firms were putting in extra hours to facilitate house searching for new employees.

“We’ve effectively taken on the role of estate agents. We’re supporting candidates as they strive to find suitable accommodation. That should not be in our remit. Part of our job between 5.30pm and 9pm is driving candidates around to secure accommodation for them,” Mr O’Connell said.

Cork North Central TD and Fianna Fáil spokesman on business and enterprise, Billy Kelleher said the shortage would cause the city to lose its competitiveness.

“The craziness has started again, and unless we nip it in the bud, we risk damaging our competitiveness even further,” Mr Kelleher said.

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