Industry leaders: Housing and labour biggest barriers to growth in Cork

An aerial view of Cork city

Cork cannot let housing shortages, public transport problems and a lack of construction workers undermine its burgeoning position as a tech and financial services region, industry leaders have warned.

Experts from tech, construction and financial services and recruitment were speaking after a Central Bank jobs report showing Cork as second to Dublin in the number of online job postings from 2014 to 2016.

Data from online job searches can reveal which jobs are most in demand, and which areas are facing potential labour shortages, according to the research paper by jobs website Indeed and Central Bank Economist Reamonn Lydon.

Almost half of net employment growth is in Dublin, according to CSO figures, while 60% of job postings are in Dublin, the research paper found, followed by Cork at 10% and Galway at 8%.

Chair of voluntary industry body IT@Cork, Anthony O’Callaghan said the rapid growth of tech firms in the South West should not be marred by complacency.

“It is testament to the strength of the skilled workforce we continue to produce in abundance in the region.

This has been achieved through continued extensive collaborations with institutions such as CIT, UCC, Cork College of Commerce and by leveraging offerings from groups such as the IT@Cork Skillnet.

“We are seeing massive growth from both foreign direct and indigenous investment companies, partnering with IDA and EI, but we cannot be complacent and we must ensure that we continue to retain our emerging talent and to attract foreign talent.

“Labour issues in the region are not without their challenges, however, and we need to do we all we can to address issues like housing supply, streamlined visa process and fit for purpose public transport options,” he said.

Chief executive of insurance tech firm Blink, Paul Prendergast said there were warning signs.

“We are noticing strong wage inflation and as a high-cost environment, driven significantly by housing shortages, we believe the future of Cork will need to focus on activity higher up the value chain.”

General manager at Cork-based property developers GPD, Aaron Willis said construction continues to face many difficulties in attracting skilled labour.

“Tradespeople will continue to be the cornerstone of the industry, so we need to focus our attention on the current and future workforce. We must think about a less academic route to the building sector and consider time served by apprentices once again – there is no doubt that this will prove challenging due to limited resources and continued pressure on margins. However, we must find a way.”

Niamh Collins of Morgan McKinley Cork said it was “a difficult market to source skilled workers”.

“We need to entice those in demand back to Cork from geographies globally,” she said.

Cork can become a region synonymous with financial services, the chair of Cork’s Financial Services Forum said, as a separate report by Indecon found that there are 1,346 full-time employees working within the funds industry in the region.

Eoin Motherway said: “We are working towards a target of securing 5,000 jobs in international financial services across the South-West by 2025.”

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