Thursday, 13 December 2007

Jobs carnage: Coming along nicely

Mass redundancies at Waterford Crystal and Abbott Healthcare are just a tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come. The waste of the boom years, overseen by an incompetent government will become increasingly vivid as time goes on. But don’t worry if you’re in the public sector or in one of the competition-free ‘professions’. You can sit back and watch the disaster unfold.

And there’s no quick fix. Our international competitiveness, on which most of our wealth is based, has plummeted, and will continue to head south. To reverse the situation the country desperately needs huge numbers of brilliant graduates in science, technology and engineering, and entrepreneurs who can conceive and deliver the business . But our best and brightest, on whom we depend on for this will be otherwise engaged. Doing what?

Well, following the money, that's what. If you’re top of the class, full of drive and energy, what will you choose? A ‘respected’ occupation that pays €300k to €500k. by the time you’re in your mid-thirties, or throw yourself on the tender mercies of the competitive marketplace for an insecure job that may pay you only a tenth of that?

So the cleverest ones, unless they’re dedicated to a particular discipline, will choose medicine, law, dentistry, pharmacy or veterinary. Can't blame them, but it’s a disaster for the country. You don’t need the best and brightest in those jobs. It doesn’t take a genius to extract a tooth, plead ‘the defendant had drink taken, Your Honour’ or write ‘take as directed by your doctor’ on a packet of pills. For these jobs good enough is, well, good enough.

My friends in academia tell me that some computing and engineering courses are down to 20% of what they were five years ago. This in turn reduces the points requirements, which means a lower caliber of student, which means higher drop-out rates. A classical viscous circle. The employment boom of the last 5 to10 years has been in construction (now falling like flies), public sector, services such as manicuring and garden maintenance, and in part-time work. Virtually no growth in internationally-traded goods and services, on which our wealth depends.

Ireland is now a very expensive place from which to compete internationally. Whereas the government exhorts the rest of us to moderate costs, the high inflation that’s sending us plummeting down the international competitiveness league is almost all public sector driven. Public sector pay, electricity, public transport, local government services such as garbage collection have been the main drivers. With the collapsing dollar, we could be facing a perfect storm.

If and when this happens, the shakeout will be interesting. Regarding the ‘New Irish’ the industrious ones, mainly East Europeans, will leave. But the rest of the free loaders will remain with us, breeding prolifically, and with the hand out.


Caoimhin said...

Spot on analysis, interesting times ahead!

Anonymous said...

You didnt mention the pay levels in the public sector. A prison officer friend of mine says he can work 'as much overtime as i like' and could earn €100k. annually. This guy doesnt even have his Leaving Cert.

Anonymous said...

You seem to think that us public servants sit around doing nothing all day. I have a pressurised job - and not huge pay either.

SAVANT said...

I dont think civil servants spend their days idling. There are two problems. First the structures are 150 years out of date leading to gross inefficiencies and the staff unions resist modernisation tooth-and-nail. Second, there's no accountablity. No matter how you screw up, your job and pension are safe.

Daisy said...

Great analysis.

As to Waterford crystal, was there ever a time when it wasn't in trouble?

Anonymous said...

I worked at 'the glass' and it was doing fine until that prick Paddy Hayes took over. Seems an age ago. He's another one who walked away from the wreckage with his pockets full.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be so confident in the workload of civil servants. I've been back in Liverpool for 9 months and applying for local gov. jobs (even, in desperation, the prison service). It seems they are 'recruiting' all year round and that 'recruitment' procedures last an eternity. I'm on stage four of the recruitment process for the DWP to answer telephones. It's been five months: next stage early March.

I cottoned on a while ago that there are few jobs and these people are simply keeping themselves busy.

Anonymous said...

This is true. I work in the Dept. of Health and we have nothing to do since the HSE was formed. It's bad for us who want to work.

Anonymous said...

My friends in academia tell me that some computing and engineering courses are down to 20% of what they were five years ago. This in turn reduces the points requirements, which means a lower caliber of student, which means higher drop-out rates.

And these graduates are telling us that the Sun shines out of Cupertino and that Android is not as good as iOS as it is available on cheaper devices which makes them more affordable to people who do not understand the aesthetics of electronics.

Yes I am taking the piss out of the Senile Old Dearie who is now on Tara Street having moved from D'Olier Street.

There is nothing more annoying than these types loudly telling the pub that they are getting themself a iPad for way more than you can get a laptop for and a 74 euro a month iPhone.

Anonymous said...

Some Rading pol has decided that business is not being destroyed quick enough and is demanding more chicks like Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina be appointed to boards so that they can have the success that HP has had.

SAVANT said...

You'd imagine that after the Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina experinces every board member would say 'never again a chick in such a position'